First-time home buyers struggling to find the right home

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COLUMBIA - For first-time home buyer Joey Riney, the goal is simple.

"We just want a bigger house, a nice yard and a safe community," Riney said.

But finding a new place to live has been difficult for Riney and his wife. The couple searched for a house for a year without finding their first one yet.

Riney's year-long search might have to do with house prices slowly beginning to rise.

A report from the National Association of Realtors stated median home prices rose 5.8 percent in 2014.

The report also stated first-time home buyers make up only 29 percent of the market, which is still well below average.

Columbia realtor Trisha Lee said the market has rebounded in Mid-Missouri for sellers.

"If anything, it's slightly a seller's market in certain areas, especially in the entry level homes," Lee said. 

Lee also said first-time buyers have had a tough time finding homes that fit their standards.

"They want more than they can actually get at an entry level," Lee said. "But with the interest rates where they are, they are still able to get into the market."

Riney said he just wants to find the right house for his family.

"It's going to be a struggle for the first couple years trying to get everything paid off and be comfortable," Riney said. "But when it comes to your family, you really need to do it."

The 5.8 percent increase in median prices is at its highest level since 2007.