An important part of the mission of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) is to provide affordable mortgages that both promote the transition from renting to owning and create “sustainable” homeownership. The FHA has never defined what it means by sustainability. However, we developed a scorecard in 2018 that tracks the long-term outcomes of FHA first-time buyers (FTBs) and update it again in this post. The data show that from 2011 to 2016 roughly
21.8 percent of FHA FTBs failed to sustain their homeownership.
Efforts in the spring of 2020 to contain the spread of COVID-19 resulted in a sharp contraction in U.S. economic growth and an unprecedented, rapid rise in unemployment. While the first wave of the pandemic slowed the spring housing market, home sales rebounded sharply over the rest of the year, with strong gains in house prices. Given the rising house prices and continuing high unemployment, concerns arose that COVID-19 may have negatively affected first-time homebuyers. Using a new and more accurate measure of first-time homebuyers, we find that these buyers have not been adversely affected by the pandemic. At the same time, gains from lower mortgage rates have gone to existing homeowners and not to households purchasing their first home.