The Wall Street Journal's Laura Kusisto sifts through National Association of Realtor data to zero-in on the declining share of first-time buyers, which are now at their lowest percentage since 197.

The share of first-timers buying this year fell to 32%, down from 33% last year and marking the third straight year of declines. The historical norm is around 40%.

If home prices continue to rise sharply it will become even more difficult for new buyers to enter the market. The median price of previously built homes sold in September was $221,900, up 6.1% from a year earlier, according to the NAR. 

“The short answer is they can’t afford it,” said Nela Richardson, chief economist at Redfin, a real-estate brokerage. “When you wait 10 years to buy a house, you’re missing out on a pretty steady source of equity,” she said. “That equity has helped previous generations do all kinds of things, like retire.”

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