Buying a home is one of the most expensive transactions most Americans will make in their life, and breaking into the housing market can be especially difficult for first-time buyers. A new RealEstate.com analysis finds that the typical first-time buyer earns more than the median household income, helping them afford to buy a home.
The median income for a first-time buyer is $72,500, compared with the national median household income of $60,700. The difference in income for first-time buyers is more pronounced when compared with their peers who didn't buy, who have a median income of $42,500, according to the 2018 Zillow Group Report on Consumer Housing Trends.
Most buyers rely on savings to finance a down payment, but the second-highest source for a down payment comes from the proceeds from a previous home salei. Buyers entering the market for the first time don't have this resource, though, so a higher income helps them set aside enough for a down payment.
First-time home buyers tend to put down slightly smaller down payments, with a median down payment of 14.5 percent of a home's price, rather than the traditional 20 percent down payment. By comparison, 58 percent of repeat buyers put down at least 20 percentii. With this smaller down payment, first-time buyers earning the median income could afford to buy a $338,000 home, meaning they could buy about 68 percent of available homes.
"Buying a home, especially for the first time, is a major step in a lot of people's lives," said Justin LaJoie, RealEstate.com General Manager. "But with home prices climbing ever higher, and inventory yet to see sustained increases, getting a foot in the door is incredibly difficult for new buyers who can't rely on selling another home to come up with a down payment."