5 Important Homebuyer Trends That You Should Know

by Peter Thomas Ricci

With our first story in our “NAR Profile” series, we take a look at important homebuyer trends of the last year.

Every year, Christmas comes several weeks early for housing analysts in the form of NAR’s “Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers,” an exhaustive analysis of the consumers who propel America’s housing market forward.

The 2014 Profile, which went live this week and features stats through July 2014, is filled to the brim with details about homebuyers and sellers – so much detail, in fact, that we’ll be splitting up our coverage across several stories in effort to provide you with the fullest coverage possible.

So with our first story, we’re looking at homebuyers, and the five important trends that NAR uncovered with its report:

1. Homebuyers Remain an Older Lot – The typical first-time homebuyer, the profile found, was 31 years of age in 2014, which was  unchanged from the last two years; clearly, recent college graduates are still waiting some time before taking the homeownership plunge, likely because they need such time to save for a down payment. Also, the typical age for a repeat buyer was 53.

2. Homebuyers Remain an Affluent Lot – The median income for homebuyers through 2013 (the most recent year for which data is available) remained high at $83,300, though it was down slightly from the $84,500 of 2012; by contrast, median income for first-time homebuyers rose from $67,400 in 2012 to $68,300, but median income for repeat buyers dropped from $96,000 to $95,000. Despite those minor fluctuations, homebuyer income remains high, a likely byproduct of an entire marketplace that has lurched towards affluence.

3. Married People Buy Homes – The percentage of homebuyers who were married couples is on the rise; at 65 percent of buyers, that’s up from 60 percent in 2009. Interestingly, though unmarried couples still made up 8 percent of purchases, the market share for single men and especially single women fell, dropping from 10 to 9 percent and from 21 to 16 percent, respectively.

4. Reasons For the Purchase Vary – Unsurprisingly, NAR cited the “desire to own a home” as the most common reason for purchases, with 24 percent of all buyers and 53 percent of first-time buyers stating that was their cause; meanwhile, 9 percent purchased for a job-related move, 8 percent did so to be in a better area, and among repeat buyers, 10 percent purchased because they wanted a larger home.

5. Multigeneration Remains Notable – Finally, multigenerational homes have maintained a presence, with 13 percent of homebuyers purchasing a multigenerational property. The reasons behind such a purchase are myriad, though we can likely boil them down to two things – aging parents that require hands-on care; and adult children moving back home after college (and likely after failing to find full-time work). Given that Baby Boomers continue to age, and given that the economic climate for recent college grads remains precarious, we can assume multigenerational purchases will remain, if not rise in prevalence.

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