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First-time US home buyers are oldest on record and least diverse since 1997

A for sale sign is posted in front of a home in Sacramento, Calif., Thursday, March 3, 2022.Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

Both first-time and repeat US homebuyers are now the oldest on record, and the proportion of purchases by Black, Asian and Pacific Island Americans is the lowest since 1997, the latest evidence that it’s increasingly difficult to buy a home.

A typical first-time buyer was 36 this year, three years older than in 2021, data from the National Association of Realtors released Thursday showed. For repeat purchasers, it rose to 59, the NAR said.

The share of first-time homebuyers declined to 26 percent this year — the lowest since NAR records started in 1981 — and has been under the historical norm of 40 percent since 2011 “as buyers face tight inventory, rising home prices, rising rents, and high student debt loads,” the NAR said.

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Mortgage rates have more than doubled this year, with the affordability crunch sidelining potential buyers, curbing the number of home sales and triggering a decline in residential real-estate prices from their Covid-era peaks.

About 88 percent of all buyers were White/Caucasian, 6 percentage points more than in 2021.

Just 3 percent of purchasers were Black — half the figure of 2021 — while the proportion of Asian/Pacific Islander homebuyers fell to 2 percent from 6 percent last year, the lowest for both since the earliest data collection of race and ethnicity in 1997.

Similar trends are present for first-time buyers, with the proportion of Black and Asian/Pacific Islander purchasers shrinking relative to 2017.