NAR: Fewer Single Buyers Make Up The Housing Market

An increasing number of married couples are making up the housing market, according to a study released last week by the National Association of Realtors.

The 2012 National Association of Realtors® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers reveals that 65 percent of all buyers are married couples. Two years ago, just 58 percent of buyers were married.

“We’ve known for some time that stringent mortgage credit standards have been holding back home sales, but these findings show single buyers have been hurt the most over the past two years,’ said Paul Bishop, NAR vice president of research. “The study is painting a clearer picture of the impact of mortgage limitations.   Total home sales would be 10 to 15 percent higher without these unnecessary headwinds.”

“The continued growth in married couples as single buyers shrink demonstrates that households with dual incomes are more successful in obtaining a mortgage.  However, given the historically favorable housing affordability conditions, most single-income buyers could also purchase a home and stay well within their means, if lending requirements were more sensible,” Bishop said.

The median age of the first-time buyer was 31 and the median income was $61,800. And what did that get them? A 1,600 square-foot home that costs $154,100. The average repeat buyer was 51, earned $93,100, and bought a 2,100-square foot home that cost $220,000.

The biggest factors influencing neighborhood choice were:

  • Quality of the neighborhood, cited by 61 percent of buyers
  • Convenience to jobs, 43 percent
  • Overall affordability of homes, 39 percent
  • Convenience to family and friends, 35 percent
  • Neighborhood design and convenience to shopping, 26 percent each
  • Quality of the school district, 25 percent
  • Convenience to schools, 22 percent
  • Convenience to entertainment or leisure activities, 19 percent

Buyers are also heavily swayed by the commute time and cost of gas from their home; 75 percent of buyers said transportation costs were important.

Some 30 percent said the biggest reason people buy a home is the simple desire to own a home of their own. That included 60 percent of first-time buyers.  The next biggest reasons for buying were desire for a larger home, cited by 11 percent of respondents; a job-related move, 9 percent; a change in family situation, 8 percent; and the affordability of homes, 7 percent.

Michele Dawson

Michele Dawson is a freelance writer based in Phoenix, Arizona. She spent seven years as a newspaper reporter and has written for various magazines and web sites specializing in real estate and home improvement, including Realty Times, SmartHomeowner, California Builder, and the Sacramento Business Journal.

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