About 60 percent of first-time home buyers put down 6 percent or less on a home purchase in September. The median down payment has dropped from 6 percent to 5 percent for first-time buyers, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ 2017 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers.
But there are still many potential buyers on the sidelines who may be under the impression they need a bigger down payment before they can buy.
NAR conducted a survey of non-homeowners earlier this year and found that most consumers believe you need a down payment of 10 percent or 20 percent to buy a home.
“They may not be aware that these programs are available, and they may not be taking advantage of them,” Jessica Lautz, NAR’s managing director of survey research and communications, said in the latest Down Payment Report, published by the Down Payment Resource.
Thirty-two percent of first-time buyers said they saved for more than two years in order to be able to have enough to buy a home. Student loan debt was the most often cited obstacle to saving. The second most cited barrier for saving was credit card debt.
“Despite widespread access to low down payments, looser lending standards, and mortgage rates that are still historically low, potential first-time buyers are putting off buying a home until conditions improve,” according to The Down Payment Report. “For many of these discouraged young families, rising rents and high levels of debt, especially student loan debt, are keeping them trapped in rentals by making it harder to save for a down payment.”
By September, first-time buyers had showed more signs of pulling back. They comprised just 29 percent of sales, down from 34 percent a year prior. Since 2011, the share of first-time home buyers has been below the historic norm of 40 percent.