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The number of first-time homebuyers, critical to a housing rebound, rose to 34 percent of sales, up slightly from June. In a healthy market, first-time buyers make up about 40 percent of sales.
Purchases are being restrained by low levels of homes available for sale and tight credit standards, economists said. Many would-be buyers are having trouble qualifying for loans or can’t afford larger down payments being required by banks. A Federal Reserve report last month showed that many banks tightened their mortgage credit standards this summer.
There were 2.4 million homes for sale in July, down 24 percent in the past year. That’s helping to push up prices. It would take about 6.4 months to exhaust that supply at the current sales pace. That’s just above the six months’ inventory that typically exists in a healthy economy.
Hiring picked up a bit in July, which could support more home sales in the coming months. Job growth helps consumers feel more secure about their finances and typically encourages more of them to buy a house.
Employers added 163,000 jobs last month, the most since February. Job gains had averaged only 73,000 in the April-June quarters, raising fears that the economy was faltering and might even slip into recession.
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