First-time homebuyers come out in force—but face new challenges

first-time-home-buyerBy Jonathan Smoke | realtor.com

If there’s one thing that characterizes the residential real estate market for most of the past four years, it’s that the supply of homes for sale has been low, low, low. Month after month, buyers have told us in our surveys that the biggest challenge they face in making a purchase is simply finding a home that meets their needs.

For the past 47 months straight, the level of existing housing inventory—the overall supply of houses available on the market—has never exceeded 6 months worth. In July, the National Association of Realtors® reported that we had a 4.7-month supply of existing homes; the new-home supply in July was even lower. (Six to seven months of supply is typical of a balanced supply-and-demand market.) Inventory might be low, but demand is still high. The number of home buyers visiting realtor.com® in August was up 16% over last August. And yet the number of homes for sale was down 8%.

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