On Thursday, USA Today published a view of what many of this spring’s first-timers have encountered in their inaugural home-buying ventures. Trends don’t precisely match those tapped by their research—but the themes cited in the national press are familiar here, too.
Although the headline emphasized the difficulties those buying a home for the first time may encounter (“3 Challenges Facing First-Time Homebuyers This Spring”), elsewhere in the piece, some bright spots were acknowledged. For readers inclined toward a ‘glass-half-full’ point of view, they tend to balance out the familiar challenges.
- According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, affordability has advanced with the easing of 30-year fixed mortgages to a national average of 4.42%.
- Inventory “has loosened up slightly.” This is a relative finding since the U.S. still lags in properties for sale (at least compared with the historical norm).
- Prices. Price growth has slowed “and leveled off” according to the MBA.
- Spring buying. Nationally, good, old fashioned negotiations have replaced the frenzied bidding wars of last year. But USA Today isn’t calling this spring a buyer’s market—only one characterized by fewer competing offers.
- Home prices. Prices are still relatively high—especially for those buying a home for the first time. Since they can’t count on the equity built by their current property, scrambling for a substantial down payment can be a barrier.
- Securing a loan. In March, the FHA said that it is tightening its rules for high-risk mortgages. As is generally the case, this can provide a hurdle for first-timers.
- Inventory is still tight. Some finger-pointing is aimed at the home construction industry, which is only now rebounding from the recession-spawned falloff in new home starts. Entry-level housing ($200,000 and less) is the sector hit hardest.
Buying a home may take more determination for first timers—but that doesn’t mean it isn’t well worth the effort. Whether you are a first-timer or a long-time homeowner, give me a call for an in-depth discussion of the possibilities presented by this spring’s many offerings!