According to the most recent Realtors Confidence Index (RCI), 39 percent of recent buyers purchased a home with a Federal Housing Administration-insured loan. Realtors who took part in the November survey also reported that the number of first-time home buyers continued to climb to 51 percent. “FHA helps provide affordable mortgage financing to homeowners, particularly first-time homebuyers who are so important in drawing down inventory to help stabilize the current housing market,” said NAR President Vicki Cox Golder, owner of Vicki L. Cox & Associates in Tucson, Ariz. “These recent survey results reaffirm that, despite its current challenges, FHA is a critical part of the American housing fabric.” The RCI results also indicated that distressed sales increased to 33 percent of all home sales last month, and that both investors and first-time homebuyers are competing for these properties. The preponderance of distressed properties on the market has also influenced buyers’ perceptions of other homes for sale. Realtors report that many buyers have pricing expectations that treat every property as if it were in foreclosure. In addition, Realtors expressed ongoing concerns with the impact of the Home Valuation Code of Conduct (HVCC) on recent appraisals. According to some survey respondents, inexperienced or out-of-area appraisers continue to rely heavily on sales prices of distressed properties, even when other comps are available. “As the first, best source for real estate information, Realtors® have their finger on the pulse of current housing trends, and their knowledge and experience offer valuable insights into today’s real estate market,” said Golder. “We know that an economic recovery is not possible without a housing recovery, and we will continue to work with policymakers at all levels to ensure that this happens.” The RCI is a key indicator of housing market strength based on a monthly survey of more than 50,000 Realtors; in a typical month there are more than 3,000 usable responses. Participants are asked about their expectations for the demand for homes, price of homes, and other economic conditions. For more information, visit www.realtor.org.