Economists' Outlook

Housing stats and analysis from NAR's research experts.

Tenure in Home Has Steadily Increased in Last 30 Years

The Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers has collected data since 1985 on the median tenure a seller has remained in their home and the expected tenure for home buyers since 2006.

In 1985, the median tenure for sellers remaining in their home was five years, the lowest in since we started tracking the data in the 30-year period. From 1987 to 2008, the median tenure for sellers was a steady six years throughout the course of about a 20-year period. The only exception was in 1997 when the median tenure jumped up one year to seven years for sellers. As the U.S. housing market entered a recession, the median tenure for sellers began to rise—seven years in 2009, eight in 2010, and to nine years in 2011 where it has remained steady through 2015. The only exception is in 2014 when the median tenure for sellers reached an all-time high at 10 years, but came back down to nine last year. Thus market changes in the last decade have caused sellers to remain in their homes longer, increasing the median number of years in the home by 50 percent more than they did 20-30 years prior.

seller tenure

In 2006, we started asking first-time and repeat buyers how long they expected to remain in the home they just bought. First-time buyers reported that their median expected tenure was just six years and nine years for repeat buyers, the lowest since we started collecting the data for both buyer types. For repeat buyers, that bumped up to 10 years in 2007, 12 years in 2009, and then up to 15 years in 2010 where it has remained steady for the past six years. For first-time buyers, the median expected tenure in the home jumped to 10 years in 2008 where it has remained ever since. It is no surprise that repeat buyers expect to remain in their home longer than first-time buyers. It is interesting, however, to see that first-time buyers in 2006 expected to sell in just six years. Fast forward a decade to 2015 and first-time buyers expect to sell in almost double the amount of time.

buyer tenure

To follow this series as we discuss the findings of 35 years of profile data, check out the hashtag #NARHBSat35 on your social channels. NAR Research will be releasing trend line data since 1981 to celebrate 35 years of home buyer and seller demographic research.

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