First time buyers buying more homes, situation still worrying: Realtors

The number of first-time buyers who bought a house increased in the first half of this year, realtors’ organization NVM reports based on research into first-time buyers in the housing market. The association speaks of a welcome development after this group’s struggles in the overheated and tight housing market in recent years. Despite the current positive signals, however, the situation remains worrying for many starters who do not have much of their own money.

In both the first and second quarters of 2023, the number of first-time buyers who bought a home was higher than a year earlier. That is a striking increase, given that the total number of home sales was actually lower than last year. Therefore, the share of first-time buyers has increased within the total owner-occupied housing market since 2022 at the expense of movers and investors. 45 percent of buyers are now first-time buyers. Previously, that was about 40 percent.

“We see that the financial position of first-time buyers has generally improved in 2023, despite the rise in mortgage interest rates,” said Lana Gerssen, chair of the NVM’s Housing department. The main reasons for this are the more relaxed borrowing standards, the strong rise in incomes, and the fall in house prices. According to Gerssen, first time-buyers paid an average of 396,000 euros at the peak in the owner-occupied housing market in 2022. At the lowest point in the market in the first quarter of 2023, they paid an average of 329,000 euros for a home.

The NVM also noted that only a few first-time buyers bought an apartment or a home smaller than 75 square meters. That goes against the stereotype that a starter home is a small apartment. However, the average surface area of homes purchased by first-time buyers is declining. The average age of first-time buyers is also declining. That is because older tenants are less likely to switch from the rental to the owner-occupied sector.

Despite first-time buyers’ improved position, it remains difficult for this group to afford a home if they don’t have their own money. Single first-time buyers with a gross salary of 38,000 euros per year can only finance 3 percent of the currently available homes with a borrowing capacity of approximately 159,000 euros. Couples who both earn an average income have better chances. With their borrowing capacity of around 358,000 euros, they can fully finance 37 percent of the supply.

Reporting by ANP

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