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FIRST-TIME HOMEBUYERS UNDAUNTED ACCOUNTED FOR 33 PERCENT OF ’88 UTAH HOME SALES, UP FROM 30 PERCENT IN ’87

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Despite rising prices and higher mortgage interest rates, the number of Utahns purchasing a home for the first time increased to 33 percent of homebuyers in 1988 from 30 percent in 1987, according to a report from the Century 21 Real Estate Corp.

In 1988, the average sales price of a Utah home was $59,664, which put the state in 14th place for the lowest average price of a home."It is a myth that the first-time buyer is out of the market," said Monte Helme, vice president of public information for Century 21. "In some areas of the country, such as Chicago, first-time buyers purchased 45 percent of the homes in the first quarter of 1989," he said.

The profile of the average first-time homebuyer is changing, Helme said. Spot surveys of Century 21 brokers show the average first-time homebuyer is a few years older, buying a smaller house or purchasing a townhouse or condominium instead of a single family home.

The percentage of first-time buyers has remained basically stable for the past five years despite an increase in the average price of a starter home to $77,800 in March 1989 from $63,000 in early 1985, Helme said.

"There seems to be a general perception that rising prices and interest rates have squeezed the first-time buyer out of the real estate market. We see no direct correlation between interest rates, home prices and the activity level of first-time buyers during the last five years," he said.