First-time buyers accounted for nearly half of homebuyers taking out mortgages in January, improving just slightly from December, according to a metric released by the American Enterprise Institute. The group’s measure stands in contrast to data put out by the National Association of Realtors, which estimates that first-time buyer share has hovered at or around 30 percent for the last year. The NAR's reading is based on a survey of homebuyers and sellers, while the AEI's figure comes from a dataset of government-guaranteed purchase loans, as well as assumptions made regarding non-agency lending.
Going by agency, the Federal Housing Administration saw the largest share of mortgages going to first-time homebuyers, holding steady at just above 80 percent. Rural Housing Services followed at around 75 percent. Far lower on the scale were the Department of Veterans Affairs, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac.
Homebuilders broke ground on new homes at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.07 million in January, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. January's rate of new construction was 2 percent below December's revised estimate but 18.7 percent above the year-ago pace of 897,000 units. The drop came entirely in the market for single-family houses, with starts falling 6.7 percent month-on-month to an annual rate of 678,000. Multifamily starts, meanwhile, climbed 7.5 percent.