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This is who homebuyers really are right now (and what they’re buying)

Who are home buyers and what are they looking for? A new report provides major, market-shifting insights

The last year has seen a major shake-up in the home-buying landscape. And, in some cases, people buying a house helped break demographic records, according to a new report from the National Association of Realtors.

The average age of a first-time home buyer was 36 years old, a new record since NAR began tracking data.

a beautiful home at sunset
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Other key findings on home-buyer demographics from the report, released Nov. 3, include:

  • The share of people buying a house for the first time was 26%, down from 34% last year and the lowest figure since NAR started tracking.
  • Though 61% of recent home buyers were married, 10% were not — that’s also a record.
  • The percentage of White/Caucasian (88%) and Hispanic/LatinX (8%) grew. The share of racial and ethnic groups buying homes declined (3% were Black/African American, 2% were Asian/Pacific Islander, and 3% checked off other). 

Where are home buyers buying? Distance and location mattered in the last year.

  • The median distance for a move for recent buyers was 50 miles, which is three times higher than the 15-mile median posted from 2018-21. It marks another all-time high.
  • The shares of homes purchased in small towns (29%) and rural areas (19%) also reached new heights.

What were home buyers looking for?

  • Most purchased a previously owned home (88%) rather than a new one (12%).
  • A detached single-family home was once again the top pick for recent buyers (79%)
  • 41% of recent buyers didn’t want to deal with renovations or issues with electricity or plumbing.
  • Price was a factor for people purchasing previously owned homes. 31% of these home buyers reported considering a better price.
  • Nearly half (49%) said the neighborhood quality was the most significant factor. Convenience to friends and family and overall affordability were considered by 37% of home buyers as the most important.
  • The average home purchased recently was a three-bedroom, two-bathroom, 1,800-square-foot home built in 1986.

If you recently got new neighbors, don’t expect them to move anywhere anytime soon. Buyers reported they believed they’d live in their homes for a median period of 15 years. About one-third (28%) don’t plan on moving. 

Finally, per usual, most buyers (86%) and sellers (87%) enlisted a real estate agent to help them buy or sell their homes. The vast majority reported being very satisfied by their agent’s knowledge, honesty, and integrity. Nearly 90% of buyers (89%) and sellers (85%) raved that they’d recommend their agent to other people. NAR president Leslie Rouda Smith indicated that realtors provided a calming and assuring presence in an ever-changing market.

The report is based on nearly 4,900 responses to a 129-question survey sent to primary residence buyers. The full report looks at the following:

  • Characteristics of home buyers
  • Characteristics of purchased homes
  • The home search profession
  • Home buying and real estate professionals
  • Financing
  • The selling experience, including the use of real estate professionals
  • For sale by owner (FSBO) sellers

Affordability, race, and inventory were cited as reasons for the shifts in home buying.

BethAnn Mayer
Beth Ann's work has appeared on healthline.com and parents.com. In her spare time, you can find her running (either marathons…
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