Economists' Outlook

Housing stats and analysis from NAR's research experts.

Galentine's, Valentine's, or Puppy Love?

This weekend is the time for Hallmark cards, flowers, and expensive romantic meals out for some. But at the end of the night, where will the happy partners call home? Let's look at home buyer location choices among different household compositions, and for those who may decide to stay in with a four-legged pet after a trip to the dog park.

When looking at the household composition of home buyers today, 60% of all home buyers are married couples, 19% are single women, and 9% are unmarried couples. Overall, the share of married couple buyers has been shrinking, which reflects the drop in the share of married adults in the U.S.

Line graph: Household Composition of All Home Buyers, 1981 to 2021

Among first-time buyers the trend is more pronounced, as the share of married couple first-time buyers has dropped to 50% from a high of 75% in 1985. Among first-time buyers there has been a steady rise of unmarried couples, which now stands at 17%. Among first-time buyers who are single women, the share is now 20%.

Line graph: Household Composition of First-time Home Buyers, 1981 to 2021

While we don't know how these single women buyers may be toasting Galentine's Day, or how the married and unmarried partners may be toasting Valentine's Day, we can dig into their neighborhood preferences by looking at where they recently purchased. It is likely that factors that influence neighborhood choice indicate how these home buyers enjoy spending their free time.

For instance, unmarried couples and single men are more likely to pick a neighborhood that is convenient to entertainment compared to other buyers. So perhaps dinner out is in order. Married couples and unmarried couples are more likely to want a larger lot or acreage compared to single buyers. Perhaps a patio dinner if the weather allows or enjoying their large yard. Single women are more likely to want convenience to shopping and walkability. Maybe they will be exploring the neighborhood and enjoying popping in and out of shops.

Bar graph: Select Factors Influencing Home Buyer Neighborhood Choice, by Household Composition

For some, perhaps a trip to the dog park is more in line with their weekend plans. When looking at neighborhood choices, 34% of unmarried couples, 21% of single women, and 17% of married couples reported that their pet influenced their neighborhood choice. In the last year, the share of unmarried couples whose pet influenced their neighborhood choice has increased. Perhaps pandemic pet adoptions are playing an even bigger role in home buyer activity.

Bar graph: Pet Influenced Neighborhood Home Buyer Picked by Household Composition

Regardless of your weekend plans, enjoy.

For more trends like these, check out the 2021 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers report.