Four factors - rising interest rates, more stringent lending standards, home price appreciation, and a tepid employment market - continue to push many first-time home buyers out of the market. The latest numbers send up red flags because first-time buyers are an indicator of the future growth and vitality of the industry. The National Association of Realtors' annual Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers report shows that first-time buyers represented 38 percent of all house sales in the last year - a decrease from 39 percent last year. It should be noted that the research was limited to owner-occupants and did not factor in vacation homes or investors.
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