The National Association of Realtors reported last month that first-time homebuyers accounted for 32% of existing home sales in December, an increase of 3% year to date. Throughout the recovery, these critical buyers to the whole real estate chain have remained relatively absent, and because of that, a number of outlets and analysts quickly seized on the narrative that first-time homebuyers were returning. So does a 3% bump confirm that, no, with slower income growth and the demons of student loans a heavy burden we are not in the clear.
According to the US Census Bureau, the median age for first time marriages since 2000 has risen from 26.8 to 29.3 for men, and from 25.1 to 27.0 for women; in 1959, the ages were 22.5 for men and 20.2 for women. These statistics may seem, on the surface, to bear no influence on housing. However a recent survey found otherwise: 43% of respondents plan to purchase a home when they marry or move in with a partner.
That statistic was part of a broader question on what milestones would precipitate a home purchase, and a marriage was by far the most pivotal event in respondents’ homebuying decision; by comparison, only 9% cited graduating college as cause to buy a home. So, if marriages are delayed, it stands to reason that first-time home purcahses will be delayed, as a result.