What is behind the decline of first-time homebuyers? Despite competitive mortgage rates and an otherwise booming new housing market, the National Association of Realtors is reporting a drastic decline in the percentage of first-time homebuyers with estimates stating only about one-third of homes sold this year were bought by first-time homeowners. The statistics are particularly disturbing since it’s largely accepted that first-time homebuyers are what drives the real estate market. New homebuyers strengthen the economy by allowing current homeowners to sell their properties and trade up to larger properties. Millennials have long been considered to be at blame for the steep decline. The theories behind this range from the trend of young adults to look for housing in densely populated urban areas to the rise of student loan debt. However, data suggests that age is not the only factor in the decline of new homebuyer sales. Compiled statistics from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York demonstrate a decline in both younger and older first-time homebuyers. The current economy has seemed to make people wary about making the commitment of purchasing real estate. Having a rental allows the person to delay the long-term financial obligation of paying off a mortgage. With limited job prospects on the market and lower starting salaries, the prospective homeowner may wish to wait for a more promising economic landscape. Finally, post-recession mandates have made it more challenging for individuals to secure mortgage loans. Underwriting standards have increased significantly with many lenders demanding higher down payments and a better credit scores than what was previously accepted in the past. Although prospective new buyers can make their monthly mortgage payments, they may struggle to save enough to pay for a hefty down payment. No matter what the reason for the first-time homebuyer decline, the hope is that the housing market will see the figures start improving in the upcoming year.