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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.

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BethAnn Mayer
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