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Genworth Mortgage Insurance's Economist Report, Third Quarter: Modest Rebound in First-Time Homebuyer Market; Largest Refinance Opportunity for First-Time Homebuyers

Lower interest rates and supply growth in affordable homes segment contributed to first-time homebuyer rebound; Private mortgage insurance continued to help more first-time homebuyers

RICHMOND, Va., Dec. 10, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Genworth Mortgage Insurance, an operating segment of Genworth Financial, Inc. (NYSE: GNW), today released the 11th edition of the First-Time Homebuyer Market Report, authored by its Chief Economist, Tian Liu, for the third quarter of 2019. The report aggregates all publicly available government data and proprietary mortgage industry data into one digestible report. The full analysis can be viewed at


  • First-time homebuyers continue to play a large role in the housing market:
    • First-time homebuyers represented 39 percent of all buyers in the single-family housing market, and 55 percent of all purchase mortgages
    • First-time homebuyers represent a larger part of the housing market today compared with the historical average. Since 1994, they have represented an average of 35 percent of all homebuyers, and 46 percent of new purchase borrowers.


  • First-time homebuyer market rebounded:
    • 3Q'19: 591,000 single-family homes were purchased by first-time homebuyers, a one percent increase from a year ago
    • Home sales to first-time homebuyers increased by nine percent from 2Q to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2.14 million units in 3Q'19 – a sharp turnaround in first-time homebuyer activity
    • Widespread Growth Across States: 32 states reported more first-time homebuyers compared with 10 states in 2Q'19


  • Sales in the repeat buyer market saw fast growth:
    • The number of repeat homebuyers grew by seven percent from a year ago to 936,000, one of the fastest-growing quarters since 2012-13


  • Housing affordability improved: 
    • Lower interest rates and slower growth in home prices helped improve housing affordability and drive the rebound in the first-time homebuyer market
    • As reported by the Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey®, the 30-year conventional mortgage rate decreased by 35 basis points over the last quarter to 3.66 percent, while the interest rate for first-time homebuyers decreased by 41 basis points to 4.11 percent, the lowest level since Q4'16
    • According to data from the Census Bureau, in the first three quarters, new home sales in the $250,000 – $300,000 price range increased by 31 percent from a year ago, more than the increase in all other price segments combined


  • Significant Opportunity for First-Time Homebuyers to Drive Refinance Wave:
    • 4.53 million first-time homebuyers bought homes between 2017 and 1Q'19, and many now have their first opportunities to refinance this year. The significant decrease in interest rates and size of the first-time homebuyer market from the past two years created the biggest opportunity for first-time homebuyers to refinance.


  • Low down payments still preferred by first-time homebuyers:
    • Overall, 473,000 first-time homebuyers used some form of low down payment mortgage products to finance their home purchase in Q3, or 80 percent of all first-time homebuyers
    • PMI: Low down payment conventional mortgages, enabled by the private mortgage insurance industry, helped 209,000 first-time homebuyers in Q3 – more than any other product; up four percent compared to a year ago and accounting for 35 percent of all first-time homebuyer purchases

"The first-time homebuyer market rebounded this quarter and although the rebound was modest compared with the number of first-time homebuyers a year ago, and a quarter behind the broad rebound, it was a strong rebound from the previous quarter allowing first-time homebuyers to make up some lost ground," said Tian Liu, Chief Economist, Genworth Mortgage Insurance.

"Sales in the repeat buyer market saw its fastest growth since the early years in the current housing cycle and if sustained, this could suggest a shift in the growth drivers in the housing market from first-time buyers to repeat buyers. More importantly, it may suggest a turnaround in homeowner mobility, which has been depressed this cycle. Falling mortgage rates and the large increase in supply in the affordable segment is helping to stabilize home price growth and improve affordability – this has been the most positive trend this year and has benefited the entire housing industry as well as homebuyers. Additionally, the significant decrease in interest rates and size of the first-time homebuyer market over the past two years created one of the largest opportunities for first-time homebuyers to refinance. Finally, low down payment mortgages remain at the core of mortgage financing for first-time homebuyers, and continue to support the shift away from government loan programs toward conventional loans with low down payments."

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 since the first quarter of 1994—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 23.2 million first-time homebuyers from government reports and industry data. By capturing the entire market over a long period, and providing the latest market snapshot, this report makes the first-time homebuyer market more visible to housing industry participants and policymakers.

For access to the full report and charts, visit:

About Genworth Mortgage Insurance
Genworth Mortgage Insurance , an operating segment of Genworth Financial, Inc. (NYSE: GNW), is headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina, and operates in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Genworth Mortgage Insurance works with lenders and other partners to help people responsibly achieve and maintain the dream of homeownership by ensuring the broad availability of affordable low down payment mortgage loans. Genworth has been providing mortgage insurance products and services in the U.S. since 1981.

Opinions, analyses, estimates, forecasts, and other views included in these materials are those of Tian Liu, are based on current market conditions and are subject to change without notice, do not necessarily represent the views of Genworth or its management, and should not be construed as indicating Genworth's business prospects or expected results. Neither Tian Liu nor Genworth guarantees that the information provided in these materials is accurate, current, or suitable for any particular purpose. Forward looking statements should not be considered as guarantees or predictions of future events.

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SOURCE Genworth Mortgage Insurance

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