Married couples, single females continue to dominate the housing market

by Rincey Abraham

Married couples continue to make up the majority of buyers, according to the National Association of Realtors’ 2018 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers.

Married couples accounted for 63 percent of all buyers this past year, while single females accounted for 18 percent – on par with last year’s report – and single male buyers were up from 7 percent to 8 percent of all buyers.

However, single male buyers tend to spend more on homes, with their median home sale price of $215,000, while single female buyers had a median home sale price of $189,000.

First-time homebuyers fell slightly from making up 34 percent of total buyers last year to 33 percent this year.

“With the lower end of the housing market – smaller, moderately priced homes – seeing the worst of the inventory shortage, first-time home buyers who want to enter the market are having difficulty finding a home they can afford,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Homes were selling in a median of three weeks and multiple offers were a common occurrence, further pushing up home prices. These factors contributed to the low number of first-time buyers and the struggles of would-be buyers dreaming of joining the ranks of homeownership.”

One of the main challenges that continues to impact buyers is significant student loan debt. Around 13 percent of buyers said they have a difficult time saving for a down payment, and half of those said student loan debt is the primary reason. First-time homebuyers in particular are struggling, as 40 percent have some student loan debt with the median debt totaling $30,000.

“Low inventory, rising interest rates and student loan debt are all factors contributing to the suppression of first-time home buyers,” said Yun. “However, existing home sales data shows inventory has been rising slowly on a year-over-year basis in recent months, which may encourage more would-be buyers who were previously convinced they could not find a home to enter the market.”

Other trends:

  • Buyers put a median 13 percent down payment on their home purchases, up from 10 percent last year and the highest since 2005.
  • 95 percent of buyers used the internet at some point during their home search process, and 86 percent used a real estate agent.
  • 82 percent of buyers are getting single-family homes, versus 8 percent choosing a townhouse and 4 percent purchasing a condo, duplex or apartment.
  • Only 8 percent of buyers said they were downsizing.
  • 73 percent of buyers were either purchasing a similarly sized or larger home.