Highlights From the Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers

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For most home buyers, the purchase of real estate is one of the largest financial transactions they will make. Buyers purchase a home not only for the desire to own a home of their own, but also because of changes in jobs, family situations, and the need for a smaller or larger living area. This annual survey conducted by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® of recent home buyers.

This report examines:


Characteristics of Home Buyers

  • First-time buyers made up 33% of all home buyers, holding steady from last year’s 33%.
  • The typical buyer was 47 years old this year, and the median household income for 2018 rose again this year to $93,200.
  • 12% of home buyers purchased a multi-generational home, to take care of aging parents, because of children over the age of 18 moving back home, and for cost-saving.
  • 20% of recent home buyers were veterans and 3% were active-duty service members.
Cover of the 2019 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers

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Characteristics of Homes Purchased

  • Most recent buyers who purchased new homes were looking to avoid renovations and problems with plumbing or electricity at 39%. Buyers who purchased previously-owned homes were most often considering a better overall value at 33%.
  • Home prices increased slightly this year to a median of $257,000 among all buyers. Buyers typically purchased their homes for 98% of the asking price.
  • The typical home that was recently purchased was 1,850 square feet, had three bedrooms and two bathrooms, and was built in 1990.
  • Heating and cooling costs were the most important environmental features for recent home buyers, with 85% finding these features at least somewhat important.
Agent showing an empty home to a couple

The Home Search Process

  • For 44% of recent buyers, the first step that they took in the home buying process was to look online at properties for sale, while 16% of buyers first contacted a real estate agent.
  • The typical buyer who did not use the internet during their home search spent only 4 weeks searching and visited 4 homes, compared to those who did use the internet and searched for 10 weeks and visited 10 homes.
  • Among buyers who used the internet during their home search, 87% of buyers found photos and 85% found detailed information about properties for sale very useful.
Man and woman in the doorway of a house, looking out at a deck

Home Buying and Real Estate Professionals

  • 89% of buyers recently purchased their home through a real estate agent or broker, and 5% purchased directly from a builder or builder’s agent.
  • Having an agent to help them find the right home was what buyers wanted most when choosing an agent at 52%.
  • 75% of buyers interviewed only one real estate agent during their home search.
  • 90% of buyers would use their agent again or recommend their agent to others.
Professional woman holding a portfolio in a home

Financing the Home Purchase

  • 86% of recent buyers financed their home purchase. Those who financed their home purchase typically financed 88%.
  • First-time buyers who financed their home typically financed 94% of their home compared to repeat buyers at 84%.
  • For 60% of buyers, the source of the downpayment came from their savings. 38% percent of buyers cited using the proceeds from the sale of a primary residence, which was the next most commonly reported way of securing a downpayment.
Senior couple at a table with a young woman

Maskot / Maskot / Getty Images

Home Sellers and Their Selling Experience

  • For all sellers, the most commonly cited reason for selling their home was the desire to move closer to friends and family (16%), that it was too small (13%), and a job relocation (11%).
  • 89% of home sellers worked with a real estate agent to sell their home.
  • For recently sold homes, the final sales price was a median of 99% of the final listing price.
  • 34% of all sellers offered incentives to attract buyers.
Smiling woman seated cross-legged on living room floor

Home Selling and Real Estate Professionals

  • 75% of recent sellers contacted only one agent before finding the right agent they worked with to sell their home.
  • 89% of sellers listed their homes on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which is the number one source for sellers to list their home.
  • 75% of sellers reported that they provided the agent’s compensation.
A couple and a woman in a suit talking outside a house

MoMo Productions / DigitalVision / Getty Images

For-Sale-by-Owner (FSBO) Sellers

  • The median age for FSBO sellers is 60 years. 65% of FSBO sales were by married couples that have a median household income of $94,000.
  • FSBOs typically sell for less than the selling price of other homes; FSBO homes sold at a median of $200,000 last year (the same as the year prior), and significantly lower than the median of agent-assisted homes at $280,000.
  • FSBO homes sold more quickly on the market than agent-assisted homes. 58% of FSBO homes sold in less than two weeks—often because homes were sold to someone the seller knows.
Woman holding blueprints in a home that's being remodeled

Aspiring Buyers

  • Among non-owners, 74% of those surveyed are currently renters and 26% currently live with someone else without paying housing costs.
  • 57% of non-owners believe it would be at least somewhat difficult to become a homeowner based on their current financial situation.
  • 78% of non-owners believe homeownership is a good financial decision.
  •  Non-owners believe homeownership is part of their American Dream, at 75%. Additionally, 81% of non-owners want to own a home in the future.
Young couple sitting on the floor with boxes

Home Buyer and Seller Infographics

A Snapshot of Today's Home Buyers

This infographic contains information about home buyers from the 2019 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers.