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First-Time Homebuyer Demand Continues to Outpace Housing and Mortgage Market, Driving Home Pricing Appreciation


Genworth Q2 2017 report shows homebuilders are increasing efforts to meet demand in lower end of pricing spectrum

RICHMOND, Va., Aug. 29, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- During the second quarter of 2017, first-time homebuyers purchased 570,000 single-family homes compared to 426,000 last quarter, marking the highest number of first-time homebuyer purchases during a second quarter since 1999, which had 599,000, according to the First-Time Homebuyer Market Report, released today by Genworth Mortgage Insurance, an operating segment of Genworth Financial, Inc. (NYSE: GNW).  

First-Time Homebuyers Outpace Housing and Mortgage Market

While the number of single-family home sales increased by just two percent during the quarter from a year ago, purchase mortgage origination increased by five percent, and sales and mortgages made to first-time homebuyers increased by eight percent.  This resulted in a higher first-time homebuyer mix in both markets. 

First-time homebuyers accounted for 36 percent of all single-family homes sold during the second quarter, up from 34 percent a year ago.  In the mortgage market, they accounted for 57 percent of all purchase mortgages originated, up from 56 percent a year ago.  Historically, first-time homebuyers have accounted for 35 percent of single-family housing market and 45 percent of the purchase mortgage market.

"The rapid growth in the first-time homebuyer market that began in 2015 continued into the second quarter.  As the housing market matures, first-time homebuyers are becoming an even more important source of growth," said Tian Liu, Chief Economist for Genworth Mortgage Insurance. "Whether one looks at the three million missing first-time homebuyers since 2007 or the historically low homeownership rate among young households, the potential growth opportunity remains large and will likely take years to play out.  The current housing cycle will be defined by first-time homebuyers."

A key driver was an improved effort by homebuilders to build more single-family homes priced between $200,000 and $250,000, the segment most popular with first-time homebuyers. This was the fastest-growing segment for homebuilders, accounting for 36 percent of all homes purchased during the second quarter and 33 percent year-over-year growth. However, while homebuilders have increased their focus on building homes within this price range, volume growth has still not caught up due to a low starting level, growing modestly by 13,000 units in the first half of the year.

"As first-time homebuyers continue outpacing the rest of the single-family homes market, homebuilders have begun adjusting their products further down the pricing curve," said Liu. "However, the growth in supply has not been sufficient enough to offset the supply-demand imbalance, leaving many potential first-time homebuyers still frozen out of the market."

The supply shortage of new, affordable starter homes has also led to a sharp decline in vacant homes for sale, sending the homeowner vacancy rate during the second quarter into its lowest level since 1994, which Genworth Mortgage Insurance believes will continue to drive home price appreciation.

"While many forecasters predict that increased supply will stem home price appreciation, we believe a slowdown in home price appreciation will be unlikely in 2017 and 2018," said Liu.  "We do not believe that the strong growth in home prices is leading to another housing bubble.  A key feature of housing bubbles is speculative demand. Today, first-time homebuyers are out-bidding investors and cash-buyers."

Booming First-Time Homebuyer Demographic Uses Less Cash, Accrues Mortgage Debt

First-time homebuyers continued to rely on low-down payment mortgages during the second quarter, financing 448,000 homes, or 78 percent of all purchases. This represents a year-over-year increase of eight percent, exceeding the growth in the purchase origination market. "Faster growth in the low down payment mortgage market is primarily the result of an expanding first-time homebuyer market, rather than a relaxation of lending standards," said Liu. "As long as the expansion in the first-time homebuyer market continues, low down payment mortgages will continue to outpace the rest of the mortgage market." The surge in home financing shows that first-time homebuyers are driving mortgage credit expansion, taking on mortgage debt to fulfill homeownership priorities, and shifting their debt appropriation away from other sources like student loans. Over time, this is expected to drive faster growth in the amount of outstanding mortgage debt which has grown by just one-to-two percent in 2015 and 2016.

PMI Products Outgrowing FHA

Among the low down payment products utilized by first-time homebuyers, conventional loans with 97 LTVs became more popular with both lenders and borrowers. Year over year, first-time homebuyer purchases using private mortgage insurance increased by 163,000, or 17 percent. As such, during the second quarter, 58 percent of growth in first-time homebuyer purchases came from the private mortgage insurance market, compared to nine percent coming from Federal Housing Administration (FHA) products. FHA and other government lending programs remain three times as large as they were in 2007 in terms of their exposure to the first-time homebuyer market. Under the current policy, their share of the mortgage market is expected to grow because of their specialization in low down payment mortgages.

About Genworth's First-Time Homebuyer Market Report

The First-Time Homebuyer Market Report is the only economic series measuring the number of home sales and mortgages to first-time homebuyers covering the entire housing market.  This report provides quarterly estimates of the first-time homebuyer market between the first quarter of 1994 and the second quarter of 2017 – spanning two housing cycles and 24 years. It provides a historical perspective necessary to understand today's first-time homebuyer market.  It is based on a sample size of 20.9 million first-time homebuyers from government reports and industry data, which is larger than any aggregate report on record.  By capturing the entire market over a long period, and providing the latest market snapshot, this report will make the first-time homebuyer market more visible to housing industry participants and policymakers.

For access to the full report and fact sheet, visit:

About Genworth Financial

Genworth Financial, Inc. (NYSE: GNW) is a Fortune 500 insurance holding company committed to helping families achieve the dream of homeownership and address the financial challenges of aging through its leadership positions in mortgage insurance and long term care insurance. Headquartered in Richmond, Virginia, Genworth traces its roots back to 1871 and became a public company in 2004. For more information, visit

From time to time, Genworth releases important information via postings on its corporate website. Accordingly, investors and other interested parties are encouraged to enroll to receive automatic email alerts and Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds regarding new postings. Enrollment information is found under the "Investors" section of From time to time, Genworth's publicly traded subsidiaries, Genworth MI Canada Inc. and Genworth Mortgage Insurance Australia Limited, separately release financial and other information about their operations. This information can be found at and

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SOURCE Genworth Financial, Inc.

For media inquiries, please contact: Jennifer Abraczinskas, Genworth Mortgage Insurance, 919 870.2195,

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