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Today's Homebuyer Post-Pandemic

How has today’s homebuyer changed post-pandemic? Using the 2021 American Housing Survey (AHS), NAHB researched the characteristics of recent home buyers — defined as households who purchased homes in the two years before the 2021 AHS was conducted — in a new study. During this period, approximately 10.2 million households bought and moved into a new home.

The NAHB study focused on two important groups of home buyers: Those who purchased a home for the first time (first-time home buyers) and those who bought a brand-new home (new home buyers). Findings of the study included a higher median income compared to pre-pandemic as well as steadily rising family size.

 In the 2021 AHS, the median household income for all recent home buyers was $97,700. Median household income among all home buyers grew 13% from $60,000 in 2001 to $68,000 in 2007 and then fell 4% to $64,998 in 2011. After the Great Recession, household income accelerated, jumping by around 50% from $64,998 in 2011 to $97,700 in 2021. Not surprisingly, new home buyers consistently show higher median income than first-time home buyers ($112,100 vs $90,000 in 2021).

 According to the 2021 AHS, the median age of all home buyers was 41. The median age of first-time buyers stayed steady at 33 compared to 2017, while the median age of new home buyers decreased from 46 to 45 compared to the 2017 statistics.

 Household size also plays a factor in the post-pandemic housing market, as a growing family is one of the main factors for home purchases. The average household size for recent home buyers was 2.70 in the 2021 AHS. While it declined from 2001 to 2011 (2.84 to 2.61), it has been growing steadily since. Meanwhile, the average household size among non-moving homeowners was 2.57 in 2021.

 The 2021 AHS found that more than half of recent buyers put no more than 20% down on the homes they purchased. Less than 18% of all buyers purchased a home without a down payment in 2021, while 50% had a down payment of 0 to 20%, and only 16% put more than 20% down.

Among all recent home buyers, first-time buyers had smaller down payments. Roughly 82% of first-time home buyers put no more than 20% down, including 18% with zero down payment. In comparison, only 63% of buyers purchased new homes with no more than 20% down.
The median value of the homes purchased was $318,185 overall in the study. The median value of homes purchased by a first-time buyer was $271,445, with the median value of new homes coming in considerably higher at $429,205.

Types of Homes Purchased
 In the 2021 AHS, 91.2%, of new homes purchased were single-family detached, while 6.9% were single-family attached and 2% were multifamily condos. Meanwhile, 83.8% of first-time home buyers purchased a single-family detached home. The remaining 16.2% are split evenly between single-family attached homes and multifamily condos.

Reasons for Purchasing a Home
 Not surprisingly, the top reason for purchasing among all buyers was for “moving to a better home(60%),” followed by “a better neighborhood(49%)” and to “form a household(38%).” First-time home buyers ranked forming a household much higher at 60% than new home buyers who ranked this reason at 32%.

The full AHS report, which includes additional statistics and charts illustrating trends over time, is available on nahb.org. If you’re considering buying or selling a home, continue reading for more valuable information or visit our member directory for a list of local professionals to help in the process.