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Home Buyers and Sellers Survey Shows Lingering Impact of Tight Credit

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tight_creditAlthough the housing market has shown a healthy recovery over the past two years, unnecessarily restrictive mortgage lending standards are preventing some financially qualified buyers from reaching their dreams, especially singles and first-time buyers, according to an annual study released today.

The 2013 National Association of Realtors® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers continues a long-running series of large national NAR surveys evaluating the demographics, preferences, motivations, plans and experiences of recent home buyers and sellers; the series dates back to 1981. Results are representative of owner-occupants and do not include investors or vacation homes.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said tight credit continues to impact home buyer households. “Single home buyers 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,” he says. “Not seen in this survey is the elevated level of investors in recent years. The housing recovery would have been much weaker without investors, who often purchase with cash.”

Sixty-six percent of buyers responding to the survey are married couples, 16 percent are single women, 9 percent single men, 7 percent unmarried couples and 2 percent other. In 2010, 58 percent of buyers were married, 20 percent were single women, 12 percent single men and 7 percent unmarried couples.

The overall market share of single buyers declined from 32 percent in 2010 to 25 percent in both 2012 and 2013. In the years up through 2010, the market shares were stable, usually moving only one or two percentage points.

“Given that mortgage interest rates are expected to gradually rise, we need greater access to credit for a sounder housing recovery. Affordability conditions remain favorable in much of the country, but consumers need access to safe and sound financing, particularly the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, and with low downpayment options for first-time buyers,” Yun says.

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