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First-time homebuyers are having a hard time; here’s what they struggle with

Aly J. Yale
The Mortgage Reports contributor

Holding back first-time buyers

Housing might be looking up, but that doesn’t mean today’s homebuyers have it easy — especially not first-timers. In fact, according to new data, more than half of first-time homebuyers have been searching for six months or more to find that dream house.

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First-time homebuyer hang-ups

New data from Realtor.com suggests first-time homebuyers are struggling a bit. A whopping 32 percent have been shopping for a house for at least six months, while 24 percent have been searching for a year or more. Two years ago, those numbers were just 18 percent and 11 percent, respectively.

The reason behind the struggle? Nearly half of first-time homebuyers say they can’t find a house in their budget, while 41 percent say they’re having trouble finding a house that meets their needs.

As Sabrina Speianu, Realtor.com’s senior economic research analyst explains, “the data shows their home searches haven’t been easy, as this primarily Millennial group of homebuyers struggled with budget constraints and spent longer looking for a home this year compared to prior years.”

According to the report, about 42 percent of current homebuyers are first-timers.

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Who are today’s first-time buyers?

The report also dives into the make-up of today’s first-time homebuyers, as well as their experience on the market. According to the data, the cohort largely falls in the 25 to 44 range. About 16 percent are aged 18 to 24, while 14 percent are 45 to 54.

Are you ready to be a first-time homebuyer?

Surprisingly, almost half of first-timers are looking for a home in a small town or rural area. About a third want a home in the suburbs, while 16 percent want an urban property.

“It may come as a surprise to some people that millennials are looking to small towns or suburbs, but when it comes to buying a home, millennials aren’t that different than other generations,” Speianu said. “First-time buyers are slightly more likely than other buyers to be shopping in urban areas, but as they begin to start families of their own they are looking for backyards and strong school systems. They are also looking for areas where they can afford more space to let their families grow, which is easier when you move out of dense urban areas with sky-high home prices.”

Three-quarters of first-time buyers want to stay in their current metro area.

11 first-time homebuyer mistakes to avoid

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Are you a first-time homebuyer looking to start the home search? Then shop around and see what mortgage rates you qualify for today.

Verify your new rate (Aug 25th, 2019)