Every year the National Association of Realtors (NAR) surveys buyers and sellers of primary residences on a variety of topics. Usually, the changes from one year to the next are fairly minor, but the most recent survey (covering the period from July 2021 through June 2022) produced some big statistical deviations from prior years. Here are some of the findings that stood out to me.
1) The percentage of first-time buyers dropped to a record low of just 27%, beating the previous record low of 30% in 1987 — 35 years ago! In the 2020-2021 survey it was 34%. The average age of first-time buyers jumped from 33 to 36. The average age of repeat buyers also rose — from 56 to 59.
2) 88% of all buyers were White, the highest percentage since the 1990s. Meanwhile, the percentage of buyers who were Black and Asian/Pacific Islander both dropped by half, from 6% to 3%. The percentage of buyers who were Hispanic/Latino rose slightly from 7% to 8%.
3) Buyers moved an average of 50 miles from where they lived before, up from 15 miles the prior year, which was as high as it had been since at least the 1980s. (See chart below.) So, where did they move? Suburbs took a big hit, plunging from 51% to 39%, while rural and small town destinations jumped by half — 12% to 19% for rural areas and 20% to 29% for small towns. The NAR survey attributes that change to the pandemic’s effect of encouraging work from home. “Zoom towns were boom towns.”
4) While only 3% of first-time buyers paid cash for their homes, 27% of repeat buyers paid cash, up from 17% the prior year. The survey attributes this to the surge in equity which homeowners had experienced in recent years, especially during the pandemic, providing them with lots of cash to spend on their replacement homes.
5) How long buyers expect to remain in the home they just purchased had held steady since 2009 at 15 years for repeat buyers and 10 years for first-time buyers. The NAR survey showed a huge jump in that expectation for first-time homebuyers — from 10 years to 18 years. The expectation of repeat buyers remained unchanged at 15 years.
6) The percentage of first-time buyers who had been renters plunged from 73% to 64%, while the number who moved from living with family or friends jumped from 21% to 27%. (See chart below.)
Click here to view the full summary of NAR’s 2022 survey of buyers and sellers.