Characteristics Of Today's Typical First-Time Buyer

First-time buyers skew young and are more active in the Middle Atlantic and New England regions

November 29, 2016

More than half of homes purchased by a first-time buyer in 2016 were made by a person between the ages of 25 and 34.

Economists’ Outlook analyzed data from the National Association of REALTORS 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers and found the demographics of first-time buyers.

In 2016, first-timers made up 35 percent of all home buyers, a share higher than 2015 (32 percent) but lower than the historical norm of 40 percent. Buyers have been facing tightened inventory and higher home prices this year.

Also, the blog found that first-time buyers fare well in the Middle Atlantic states (45 percent of homes bought this year were by first-timers) and New England (42 percent), but face challenges in the Mountain region (28 percent) and in the South Atlantic (30 percent).

In terms of age, 56 percent of first-time buyers were between 25-34, which is six percentage points higher than in 2005.

Buyer demographics also saw huge differences between household compositions for first-time buyers. Of the unmarried couples that bought a home last year, 60 percent (up from 57 percent in 2015) were first-time home buyers. In comparison, of the married couples that purchased a home, 32 percent were first-time buyers in 2016 (up from 27 percent in the previous year). Of the single males and single females that bought a home, 37 and 36 percent respectively (both down from 39 percent in 2015) were first-time home buyers.

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