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:

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Characteristics of Home Buyers

  • First-time buyers made up 33% of all home buyers, a decrease from last year’s 34 percent.
  • The typical buyer was 46 years old this year, and the median household income for 2017 rose again this year to $91,600.
  • 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.
  • 18% of recent home buyers were veterans and 3% were active-duty service members.
Cover of the 2018 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 38%. Buyers who purchased previously-owned homes were most often considering a better price at 32%.
  • Home prices increased slightly this year to a median of $250,000 among all buyers. Buyers typically purchased their homes for 99% of the asking price.
  • The typical home that was recently purchased was 1,900 square feet, had three bedrooms and two bathrooms, and was built in 1991.
  • Heating and cooling costs were the most important environmental features for recent home buyers, with 84% finding these features at least somewhat important.
Family at dining table

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 17% 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.
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Home Buying and Real Estate Professionals

  • 87% of buyers recently purchased their home through a real estate agent or broker, and 6% 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%.
  • 68% 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.
Woman holding real estate brochure

Financing the Home Purchase

  • 88% of recent buyers financed their home purchase. Those who financed their home purchase typically financed 87%.
  • First-time buyers who financed their home typically financed 93% of their home compared to repeat buyers at 84%.
  • For 58% of buyers, the source of the downpayment came from their savings. 39% 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.
Two women in a house discussing paperwork

Home Sellers and Their Selling Experience

  • For all sellers, the most commonly cited reason for selling their home was that it was too small (15%), followed by the desire to move closer to friends and family (14%), and a job relocation (13%).
  • 91% 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.
  • 44% of all sellers offered incentives to attract buyers.
Man and woman looking out living room window

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.
  • 90% of sellers listed their homes on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which is the number one source for sellers to list their home.
  • 77% of sellers reported that they provided the agent’s compensation.
Older couple sitting in backyard

For-Sale-by-Owner (FSBO) Sellers

  • The median age for FSBO sellers is 55 years. 71% of FSBO sales were by married couples that have a median household income of $98,800.
  • FSBOs typically sell for less than the selling price of other homes; FSBO homes sold at a median of $200,000 last year (up from $190,000 the year prior), and significantly lower than the median of agent-assisted homes at $264,900.
  • FSBO homes sold more quickly on the market than agent-assisted homes. 73% of FSBO homes sold in less than two weeks—often because homes were sold to someone the seller knows.
Woman at desk thinking

Home Buyer and Seller Infographics

2018 Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers

Infographic
The typical buyer was aged 46, and median household income was $91,600. The typical home seller was 55, with a $98,800 median household income.

A Snapshot of Today's Home Buyers

Infographic
This infographic contains information about home buyers from the 2018 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers.

Buyer Bios

Report
This report uses data from the 2018 Home Buyers and Sellers survey to focus on specific buyer and seller demographic groups.

Research Reports

Use the data in these reports to improve your business through knowledge of the latest trends and statistics.