CHARLOTTE, North Carolina — The number of first-time home buyers in the United States is shrinking and aging more than ever, according to a report from the National Association of Realtors.
The NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers surveyed homebuyers from July 2021 to June this year.
The report attributed high prices, low inventory and higher interest rates as contributing factors to the findings.
According to the Canopy Realtor Association and Canopy Realtor MLS President Lee Allen, the median sale price in the Charlotte area in October 2022 was $379,450, compared to $335,000 a year ago.
“The challenge is the affordability index – how much you need to earn to afford that first home. People looking to buy and interest rates evaluating them have to step back and say, ‘Well, maybe I’ll have to go ahead and rent,’ unfortunately,” Allen said.
The report estimates that the average first-time home buyer is 36, up from 33 a year ago.
“One of the other challenges, these buyers are actually saving a little more money and delaying that purchase because of interest rates to get into that first home,” Allen said.
He said that even though interest rates are more than double the 2.8% in 2020, rates are still considered to be at a historical midpoint.
Allen said that according to the NAR, a year ago a homeowner needed a median income of $60,000 to buy a home at the median price; that number is now $90,000, which is entirely due to interest rates.
Charlotte realtor Sheila Theriault said that trend is changing, with more people interested in taking the leap and buying their first home.
On Thursday, she and her colleagues hosted a free seminar to educate first-time homebuyers about the market and the homebuying process and to dispel myths.
She said some of those myths include not being able to afford a house, seeing the process as complicated, and needing a 20% down payment to buy a house.
“I have the impression that they hesitate. If you can get ahead of them somehow. Social media is another great way to do this: doing reels or making videos to give them stats and give them information. Either way, we can meet them and brief them on the market and the process,” Theriault said.
She told homebuyers attending the seminar that the best time to buy their new home, if they could, is now.
“The [houses] are sitting in the market a bit longer. You have time to watch them. You don’t have a 15 minute window to make a decision. Today you don’t have to do that, you have time to make a good decision for yourself,” Threriault said.
According to the Canopy Realtor Association, in the Charlotte area, 96% of homes are selling at listing price, which is lower than last year. On average, homes are on the market for 27 days, 10 days longer than in 2021.