The share of first-time buyers declined for the 3rd consecutive year, to its lowest point in nearly 3 decades according to an Annual Survey released by the National Association of REALTORS (NAR). Overall, home sales strengthened, but the uptick was driven more by repeat buyers with dual incomes. The survey also found that nearly 90% of buyer-seller respondents worked with a real estate agent to buy or sell as for-sale-by-owner transactions dropped to their lowest share ever. Says Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, “Unfortunately, there are just as many high hurdles slowing first-time buyers down, such as increasing rents and home prices impeding their ability to save for a downpayment. There is also scarce inventory for both new and existing homes and it is still too difficult for some to get a mortgage.” The primary reason for purchasing? More first-time buyers in this year’s survey (64 percent) cited a desire to own their own home as the primary reason compared to a year ago (53 percent). For repeat buyers, desire to own a home of their own and wanting to own a larger home were both the top reason given (each at 13 percent). More homebuyers began their search on the Internet (42 percent) than any any other source, but real estate agents remained an integral part of the process. 88 percent of buyers who searched for home online ended up purchasing with the help of an agent (Realtor). 89 percent of sellers sold their home with an agent. Only 8 percent were sold by for-sale-by-owners (FSBO), down slightly from 9 percent during the past three years and at the lowest share of the marketplace ever recorded sing the survey’s 1981 inception.