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First-Time Homebuyers Helping to Spur Housing Market

First-time homebuyers accounted for nearly 4 in 10 home purchases in 2011, a 5 percent increase from the year prior and another good sign for the U.S. housing market.

The figures come from the illuminating 2012 National Association of Realtors Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. This annual survey is mostly comprised of information from homeowners.

First-time homebuyers are especially important for a sustained housing recovery. Only about 10 percent of the homeowners surveyed used the VA home loan program, which features no down payment or private mortgage insurance.

First-Time Homebuyers

Here's a look at some statistics and figures regarding this block of first-time buyers:

  • The median age was 31 and the median income was $61,800.
  • Typical purchase price was $154,100 for a 1,600-square-foot home.
  • The median down payment was nearly 10 percent for first-time and repeat homebuyers

“First-time buyers historically make small downpayments, but repeat buyers like to put down 20 percent if they can to avoid paying mortgage insurance,” Paul Bishop, vice president of research for the National Association of Realtors, said in a news release. “The general loss in home value since the peak of the housing boom means many repeat buyers in recent years had to make smaller downpayments. Fortunately, prices have turned up this year and are showing sustained increases, so we’re on the road to a recovery in home equity.”

VA Loans

The picture was actually a bit rosier for first-time VA homebuyers in 2011. Their average loan amount was nearly $200,000. Ninety percent of VA homebuyers purchase without making a down payment.

That's a key benefit for first-time homebuyers, who may struggle to build a satisfactory credit profile and to come up with enough money for a down payment for a conventional or FHA loan.

The National Association of Realtors survey also found that homebuyers who use a real estate agent typically visited 10 homes over a 12-week span. The vast majority of buyers (90 percent) used the Internet to search for a home but also utilized agents, yard signs, open houses and even print ads.

To learn more about the VA Loan process check out this VA Loan Comprehensive Guide.

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