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Zillow: The More Consumer Trends Change, The More They Stay the Same

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Market Data + Trends

Zillow: The More Consumer Trends Change, The More They Stay the Same

 A global pandemic and an unprecedented shift in the housing market have the potential to reshape buyers’ preferences over the longer term, yet many behaviors and attitudes remain the same.


September 3, 2021
Home buyer trends
Photo: stock.Adobe.com

The 2021 Consumer Housing Trends Report compiled by Zillow of who housing buyers are and what they were doing during the past year.

The average US buyer is 45 years old, partnered or married, has at least some college education, and is most likely to buy a home in the South. Demographic change tends to play out over a long time: Most of these characteristics have not changed substantially, if at all, over the last few years. Half of buyers moved from a previous home they owned and sold that previous primary residence.

Most buyers purchased a single-family detached house — however, other home types like a townhouse/rowhouse (11%) or condo/co-op (10%) appear to have become more common among buyers surveyed in 2021. The typical buyer’s home has three bedrooms, three bathrooms and is 1,000-1,999 square feet.1 Most buyers (61%) moved from a previous home they owned (or still own).

Despite low interest rates and an increased desire among renters to buy their next home, 2021’s survey suggests that home buying became more challenging than past years. The typical (median) buyer submitted two offers, up from just one offer that typical buyers consistently reported making over the previous three years (2018 – 2020). First-time buyers also got more scarce: they represented 43% of buyers when surveyed in 2020, but only 37% in 2021. 

Coupled with low inventory, a busy mortgage market (driven in part by elevated refinance activity that adds to an already full pipeline of applications) may have added hurdles to an already challenging housing market. Mortgage buyers were 50% more likely to report facing at least one denial before ultimately being approved in 2021 than they were in the previous year.

Buyers are most likely to say that a home that’s within their initial budget (84%) and one with air conditioning (84%) are very or extremely important. Having their preferred number of bedrooms (78%) and ample storage (75%) followed. 

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