NAR Reports

2016 home buyer demographics – who’s buying these days?

home buyer

(REAL ESTATE NEWS) Who is more likely to buy a home today – a single man or single woman? Is the median size and price of a home on the rise or decline? Find out in this year’s report.


This summer, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) surveyed 5,465 home buyers and sellers for the 2016 National Association of Realtors® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. The study shows that in the past five years, affordability has tightened, and the time spent home shopping has fallen.

But who exactly is buying homes this year? The share of buyers that are single men has dipped in recent years, while the median cost of a home purchase has spiked. Let’s dig a little bit deeper.

First time buyers vs. repeat buyers

The median age of first time buyers is 32 years old (up from 31 for the past several years). The median income of first time buyers in 2016 is $72,000 (up from $62,400 in 2011).

The median size of homes purchased by first time buyers is 1,650 sf (up from 1,570 sf five years ago) and cost $182,500 (up substantially from $155,000 in 2011).

Compare that to the median age of repeat buyers which is a full 30 years older (52, down from 2011’s median 53 years of age). The median income of repeat buyers $98,000 (up from $96,600 in 2011).

The median size of homes purchased by repeat buyers actually fell to 2,000 sf (from 2,100 sf five years ago), while the median cost rose dramatically to $250,000 (from $219,500 in 2011).

Who is buying homes in 2016? (versus 2011)

  • 66 percent of all buyers are married couples (up from 64 percent).
  • 17 percent of all buyers are single women (down from 18 percent).
  • 7.0 percent of all buyers are single men (down from 10 percent).
  • 8.0 percent of all buyers that are unmarried couples (up from 7.0 percent).
  • 2.0 percent of all buyers fit into another category (up from 1.0 percent).
  • 90 percent of buyers identify as heterosexual.
  • 3.0 percent of buyers identify as gay or lesbian.
  • 1.0 percent of buyers identify as bisexual.
  • 7.0 percent of buyers preferred not to say.
  • 9.0 percent of buyers own at least one investment property (unchanged).
  • 3.0 percent of buyers own at least one vacation home (down from 4.0 percent).
  • 18.0 percent of buyers are veterans.
  • 2.0 percent of buyers are active military members.

The takeaway

If you’re marketing to buyers, knowing who is in the market is helpful. While trends locally are still the most relevant to any broker or agent’s career, knowing the national trends can help pinpoint adjustments that should be made locally, or affirm decisions already being made.

The practice of real estate is changing given these rapidly altered circumstances surrounding home buyers and sellers, and it is important to be informed!

Click here for hundreds of other stats from this report.


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