The 5 Most Important Characteristics of Today’s Homebuyers

by Peter Thomas Ricci

NAR’s 2013 Home Buyers and Seller Generational Trends report is massive, and among its many findings are great insights into homebuyer characteristics.


The National Association of Realtors publishes many reports on real estate and the many individuals involved in the industry, and few are more eagerly anticipated than the “Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends” report, a massive study of the homebuying and selling process.

We’ll be devoting a number of stories in the coming days to the “Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends” report, and for our first study, we’re going to look at the five most important characteristics that NAR uncovered for homebuyers in today’s housing market.

1. The “X” Factor in Today’s Housing Market – Generation X comprised the largest group of recent homebuyers, making up 31 percent of home purchases; they were followed by the increasingly important Millennials/Generation Y, which made up 28 percent, and then young boomers (18 percent), old boomers (14 percent), the Silent Generation (10 percent), and finally, the G.I. Generation (less than 1 percent).

2. Age-Centric Home Purchases – Age continues to have a huge impact on what homes consumers ultimately buy. For homebuyers aged 57 and younger, the single-family detached home continued to reign supreme, with 80 percent of those buyers opting for that option; however, among buyers aged 58 and older, townhouses and condos are becoming increasingly common.

3. First-Timers MIA – First-time homebuyers remain relatively missing in action, with 39 percent of all home purchases going to first-timers. Of those first-time homebuyers, though, 79 percent were younger than 32, while 36 percent were between 33 and 47 years old and 19 percent were between 48 and 57.

4. Prior Living Arrangements Vary – The previous living arrangements for homebuyers varies wildly based on the buyers’ age. Among homebuyers aged 32 and younger, 65 percent rented an apartment before their purchase, and 22 percent lived with parents, relatives or friends. As the consumers aged, the percentage of owners increased and renters decreased, though for consumers aged 33 to 47, 50 percent were still renters before making their  purchase.

5. Reasons for Buying Vary – Similarly, the reasons for the home purchase also fluctuated with age. For instance, among homebuyers aged 32 and younger, 50 percent were buying out of a desire to own, with 12 percent saying they took advantage of housing’s relative affordability, and 10 percent owning because of changing family situations.

Meanwhile, among buyers aged 33 to 47, 17 percent desired to own a larger home, 13 percent had a job relocation or move and 7 percent wanted to live in a better area. Also worth mentioning: 6 percent of homebuyers aged 48 to 57 desired a smaller home, and 7 percent wanted to be closer to their school/job/transit; and among older homebuyers, the main reason was living closer to family and friends, with 13 and 24 percent of homebuyers aged 58 to 66, and 67 to 87 citing that reason, respectively.

As we already stated, this only scratches the surface of NAR’s report, and we’ll be back soon with more coverage of the report’s findings.

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