No one has to tell Brandon and Holli Hadwin of Rockledge how fortunate they were to pull the trigger on purchasing their first home in March.
The couple locked in at a 3.75 interest rate for a 30-year mortgage and were able to move into a four-bedroom, two-bathroom home in the Levitt Park subdivision.
Interest rates have crawled to well beyond 4 percent now, and that has Brandon Hadwin breathing a sigh of relief.
“I’m definitely glad we jumped at it when we did,” said the 24-year-old member of the Honor Guard at Patrick Air Force Base. “It could have meant us not getting this house.”
There’s little question in many U.S. markets, including Brevard County’s, that housing is making a solid turnaround.
U.S. home prices have risen 14 straight months, but evidence suggests that first-time buyers have been increasingly on the sidelines because of rising prices and tight inventories.
In May, first-time buyers accounted for 28 percent of existing-home purchases, down from 34 percent a year before and 36 percent two years ago, according to the National Association of Realtors.
The declining share of first-timers means many have missed out on low interest rates — which recently moved up from near-record lows — and home prices, which have risen sharply from their bottom.
“The people buying homes today are participating in home price growth. Younger people, they are being left out,” says Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the NAR. “It remains to be seen when the first-time buyer can return.”
Why they matter
First-time buyers are critical to a housing recovery, because they help existing-homeowners sell and move up to larger or more expensive homes. But their presence is being reduced by:
• Competition. Cash buyers accounted for 33 percent of existing home sales in May. Investors, who are often all-cash buyers, accounted for 18 percent of purchases, the NAR data says.
Cash buyers are tough competitors, especially in markets with limited inventory and for first-time buyers who often use low-downpayment loans to finance purchases.