It’s good news for the long term real estate investor once again. According to an article on cnbc.com, the National Association of Realtors reported first time homebuyers accounted for just 33 percent of purchases last year, the lowest percentage going back to 1981. The first year of Ronald Reagan’s first timers stallpresidency, remember? That’s 33 years for those keeping score at home. What is the impact of such a low percentage?

Rents are higher. People have to have a place to live and as the economy has been expanding there are more opportunities for work. Home prices have recovered nicely for the past two years with most areas reporting property values have climbed above pre-recession levels. At the same time, income hasn’t kept pace as the economy, while recovering, hasn’t kept pace with housing prices. Historically, according to NAR, four out of 10 purchases are from first timers. Just last year, 38 percent of all purchases were made by first time homebuyers.

First timers support a real estate market buying entry level homes and allowing the sellers of those homes to buy yet another home. Yet without that first time domino falling, those buying second or third homes who need the funds from the sale to buy again will be sitting on the sidelines.

Fannie Mae recently announced a forthcoming 3.00% down program, slightly better in terms of down payment compared with FHA mortgages, yet that 0.50% difference may not have that much of an effect, if at all. Not every market is experiencing the same and pricier neighborhoods will be slower to move for first timers as qualifying will be more difficult without compensating income. All of this isn’t bad news. In fact it’s good news for real estate investors who have been watching the value of their portfolios increase while rents have risen right along with them. What’s in store?

As rates continue to stay low, those who currently qualify to buy investment properties hold the upper hand while first timers are waiting for prices to stabilize, student debt to pay down or simply come to the conclusion that another housing meltdown is unlikely.