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Singles, first-time buyers feeling housing squeeze

The latest research on homebuyers from the National Association of Realtors shows the effects of tight mortgage lending standards on the market. The association says that these conditions are keeping qualified buyers, especially singles and first-time buyers from home ownership.

NAR’s 2013 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers is the latest release in a long-running series that dates back to 1981. Results are representative of owner-occupants and do not include investors or vacation homes. The overall market share of single buyers declined from 32 percent in 2010 to 25 percent in both 2012 and 2013. First-time home buyers slipped to a 38 percent market share in the past year from 39 percent in the 2012 study.

“Single homebuyers have been suppressed for the past three years by restrictive mortgage lending standards, which favor dual-income households who are more likely to have higher credit scores,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist.

He added that “historically, first-time buyers are instrumental in housing recoveries because they help existing home owners sell and make a trade.”

While many potential buyers were still absent, the report did reveal some bright spots for those emerging from a housing crises.

“Interestingly, 6 percent of all buyers had previously sold a foreclosure or short sale, showing that sellers of distressed property are beginning to recover financially,” Yun said.

NAR mailed a 122-question survey in July 2013 to a national sample of 148,011 home buyers and sellers who purchased their homes between July 2012 and June 2013, using a random sample of county records. Sixty-six percent of respondents were married couples, 16 percent were single women, 9 percent single men, and 7 percent unmarried couples. Fourteen percent of all survey respondents were multi-generational households, including adult children, parents and/or grandparents.

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