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A total of 8.8 million households
bought homes in the two years preceding the most recent American Housing Survey
(AHS). The survey, sponsored by the Department
of Housing and Urban Development, is conducted by the Census Bureau every two
years. The AHS is a nationally
representative survey of residential structures in the US and of the households
that occupy them. Results of the 2017 survey were released last year and the National
Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has taken a detailed look at the findings,
publishing several blog entries. Carmel
Ford of NAHB’s Economics and Housing Policy Group has now published a paper on
the characteristics of those recent buyers and their transaction.
The 8.8 million homebuyers are the
highest tallied by any AHS since the Great Recession. There were 11.6 million
identified in the 2005 AHS, but the number fell to a low of 6.8 million in
2011. It has been climbing since then to
7.3 million in 2013, and 7.9 million in 2015.
Ford breaks the total into two
subsets, the 3.3 million who were first-time buyers and the 5.5 million trade-up
buyers. While the total number of buyers
is up from the 2015 survey, the gain is among trade-up buyers who likely
benefited from the rise in home prices which provided an opportunity to build
equity and “trade-up” to new homes. The share
of first-time buyers ticked down from 39 percent in 2015 to 37 percent.
The AHS gathered a lot of details
which Ford has summarized in the NAHB report. They cover demographic characteristics
and details about what, how, and with what they purchased their home. Here are
a few of the highlights.
The typical buyer was 40 years old, buyers.
32 for first timers and 47 for repeat buyers.
The median income across all buyers was $86,623, about $8,000 more than
in 2015. There was about a 20-percentage
point spread between the incomes of first-time and trade-up buyers; $93,761 versus
$77,212. Recent home buyers had an
average of 2.72 persons in their household.
Twenty-seven percent were racial or
ethnic minorities, little changed from the previous survey, but first-time home
buyers are more diverse, at 34 percent minority versus only 22 percent of
The median price of a home purchased
prior to the 2017 AHS was $228,389, up 10 percent from $208,573 in 2015. The median size was 1,890 sq. ft., 10 feet
smaller than the 2015 home, but first-timers purchased homes 400 sq. ft. smaller
than the median while trade-up homes were a median of 2,070 sq. ft.
percent of homes were purchased without a down payment, the same as in 2015. Fifty-two
percent of buyers made their downpayment out of savings or cash on hand, 26
percent used proceeds from the sale of their previous home, 3 percent acquired the
home as an inheritance or a gift.
Top reasons why recent home buyers decided to move were ‘for a better home’ (55
percent), to ‘for a better neighborhood’ (46 percent), and to ‘form a
household’ (39 percent). But the share of the various reasons given differed
among the two types of buyers.