Panelists at the National Association for Business Economics’ annual meeting in Chicago concurred that the long-term housing outlook is predicated in part on the return of first-time buyers, who some say appear to be returning to the market. Data from Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Ginnie Mae indicate that first-timers accounted for 52 percent of buyers who financed a home purchase in the third quarter; but when cash sales also are factored in, data from the National Association of Realtors shows that first-timers made up just 29 percent of existing-home buyers in August, down from an average of 41 percent from October 2008 to October 2010. Still, Ivy Zelman of Zelman & Associates says more first-time buyers with lower down payments and credit scores are able to enter the market now that lending standards are beginning to ease. Zelman says people have increasingly put off home purchases as they delay getting married and having kids, but she says they will not postpone homeownership forever. | Read More

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