Where Have All the Young, First-Time Homebuyers Gone?

December 6, 2019
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Go to school, get a job, get married, buy a house. For decades, that was a blueprint for many American lives, and it is still relevant today. But the time in between these familiar life stages is getting longer. Millennials are pushing off marriage and homebuying as they face financial obstacles and a housing shortage, and it's impacting the housing market. The median age of homebuyers increased by 16 years from the 1980s. And because homeownership is crucial to building wealth, the effects of delayed homeownership may be felt for years to come. 

The median age of U.S. home buyers is now 47, according to the data compiled by Deutsche Bank DB, +0.91%. In 1981, the median age of American home buyers was 31.

Notably, the median age has increased by eight years since the financial crisis. Much of this rise can be attributed to the disappearance of young, first-time home buyers from the housing market.

In larger U.S. cities that have proved more popular with today’s young adults, home prices have skyrocketed. Inventory is a significant challenge: Baby boomers are increasingly choosing to age in place, while home builders have focused primarily on the upper end of the market since the Great Recession.

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