Key Highlights

  • Median age of home buyers jumped from 31 in 1981 to 47 in 2019
  • Median age of first-time home buyers jumped to 33 in 2019 to a consistent 28-32 years old from 1981-2018
  • Median age of repeat buyers now stands at 55

Homebuyers are becoming older…all homebuyers and among all market segments. The median age of first-time buyers is now 33 years old whereas first-time buyers ranged in age from 28 to 32 between 1981-2018.

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31 years old to 47 years old is a fairly steep jump. What happened?

  • It ‘s harder today to save for a down payment than it was more than 30 years ago.
  • Rental costs (and everything else along with student loan debt) have substantially increased making it more difficult to save for a down payment.
  • Debt-to-income ratios are increasing inferior due to student loan debt.
  • There is a severe shortage of affordable entry-level homes today…this shortage didn’t exist in 1981.
  • One current positive is that first-time buyers may be able to get help from down payment assistance programs.

Though the median age of first-time buyers is eye opening, the current median age of repeat buyers is eye-popping. Today’s median age of repeat buyers is 55; in 1981, the median age of repeat buyers was 36.

What are some contributing factors to the age increase of repeat buyers?

  • Homeowners are staying in their homes for longer periods of time…tenure has increased from 6-7 years to now 10 years.
  • Americans are living and working longer so more people are open to purchasing new homes even with mortgages long past traditional retirement ages.
  • Many people are having children later in life so there are more “big life decisions,” such as buying a home, being pushed back into the future.
  • Working and assisting grown children through college now takes precedence over downsizing.
  • Adults are holding on to the “family house” as their adult children boomerang back into the fold after college.
  • Many homeowners have positive home equity situations due to increased home prices. These owners can now move to houses that better meet their needs.
  • Many owners intend to stay in their repeat, newer houses for 15-20 years and/or many are planning to “never” move.

Where are homeowners staying in their homes longer?

  • Pittsburgh PA – 16 years
  • Scranton PA – 18 years
  • Springfield MA – 16 years
  • Buffalo NY – 16 years
  • Honolulu HI – 16 years

Where are homeowners moving from their homes faster?

  • Colorado Springs CO – 8 years
  • Austin TX – 8 years
  • Boise City ID – 8 years
  • Provo-Orem UT – 7 years
  • Las Vegas – 7 years
  • Phoenix AZ – 8 years
  • North Point FL – 8 years
  • Cape Coral FL – 7 years

 

Thanks to the American Community Survey and the National Association of REALTORS®’ Dr. Jessica Lautz, vice president of Demographics and Behavioral Insights for source data.

Also read: REALTORS’ Latest 2019 Confidence Index Survey, Why FSBOs Don’t, California’s Median Home Price Jumped +10% to $615,090 in December 2019