Survey: First-Time Homebuyers Represent 1 in 3 Sales

National Association of Realtors 2019 Poll Infographic

“Infographic: A Snapshot of Today’s Home Buyers.” National Association of Realtors®, *2019 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers*. November 23, 2019,


The National Association of Realtors (NAR) mailed out a 125-question survey to homebuyers who purchased between July 2018 and June 2019. Approximately 6000 buyers completed the poll. One of the most noteworthy statistics is that 1 in 3 respondents (33%) were first-time buyers. That figure is down from a historic level of approximately 2 in 5 respondents (40%).

The poll revealed interesting characteristics of the typical home search, homes that are being purchased, and traits of the average buyer.

What is the nature of the home search?

The home search is changing as more and more buyers are looking online:

  • The vast majority of buyers who looked online for homes reported that they found it very useful when there were written details and images of properties (85% and 87%, respectively).
  • The average search length of buyers who looked for homes online was 10 weeks, while the number of showings they attended averaged 10. The search was more condensed for those who did not use online sources, with averages of 4 weeks and 4 showings.
  • A small segment of homebuyers (16%) started their search by reaching out to a realtor. Nearly half (44%) began looking for a home by searching the Web.

What types of homes are being bought?

We can learn a lot by looking at the numbers on the homes respondents purchased:

  • The median square footage of homes purchased by buyers was 1850. The homes had two bathrooms and three bedrooms on average. The median age of homes bought was 29 years.
  • The median price paid by the buyers polled was $257,000. The average property was purchased at 98% of the list price.
  • The sustainability element that was the most critical to homebuyers was heating and cooling expenses. Nearly 7 in 8 respondents (85%) described that aspect of homes as somewhat important, at minimum.
  • The top concern of those who bought previously owned homes, shared by 1 in 3 buyers (33%), was the overall value. The main issue for those who were purchasing new homes was that they would not have to deal with electricity or plumbing challenges, or need to renovate.

Who is purchasing homes?

Beyond the prevalence of first-time buying, homebuyers have the following traits:

  • The median household income of a buyer was $93,200, an increase over 2018 figures.
  • The overall median age of homebuyers was 47, while the median age of first-time buyers was 33 (up from 32 last year) and of repeat buyers was 55 (matching the 2018 result). The age of first-time buyers was greater than the historic level of 28-32%.
  • One-third of first-time buyers had family or friends help them with the downpayment.
  • 3% of buyers were on active duty in the military, while 1 in 5 buyers (20%) was a veteran.
  • Due to kids moving back home or housing needs for senior parents, 1 in 8 buyers (12%) bought multi-generational homes.

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