A Look at Typical U.S. Homebuyers, Sellers

For saleWho is the typical homebuyer in America, and what compels him or her to enter today’s real estate market? How is the typical home purchase financed, and how satisfied is the buyer when the deal closes? What about the seller? And what is the role of a real estate professional in this dizzying transaction?

These questions and more are answered in a comprehensive national survey taken every year by the National Association of Realtors. The latest results, from the 2015 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, also features a selection of regional data from California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii included in NAR’s Pacific region (appearing in parentheses below).


  • First-time homebuyers last year accounted for 32 percent of all purchases in the U.S. (In the Pacific region, such buyers made up 30 percent of transactions.)
  • The typical buyer was 44 years old and had a median household income of $86,100. Two-thirds were married couples, 15 percent were single women, nine percent were single men, and seven percent were unmarried couples. (The typical Pacific buyer was similar; the only significant difference in statistics was the Pacific buyer’s median income: $97,000.)
  • Thirteen percent purchased a multigenerational home to take care of aging parents, for cost savings, and because adult children are moving back home. (Ditto in the Pacific region.)


  • New homes accounted for 16 percent of purchases. The biggest motivator for purchasing new homes? Buyers said they wanted to avoid renovations and problems with plumbing or electricity. Buyers of previously owned homes most often said that they found them to be better bargains.
  • The median distance between a buyer’s previous home and the one they just bought: 14 miles.
  • The typical home that was recently purchase was 1,900 square feet, had three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and was built in 1991.
  • Buyers said they expect to live in their homes for a median of 14 years; 23 percent said they are never moving again.


  • For 42 percent of buyers, the first step they took in the homebuying process was to look online at properties for sale; 14 percent first contacted a real estate professional. At the end of the process, 87 percent bought their homes with the help of a real estate professional or broker (91 percent in the Pacific region).
  • Buyers typically searched for 10 weeks and looked at a median of 10 homes.
  • Fifty-nine percent of homebuyers were very satisfied with the process, up from 56 percent one year ago, and 88 percent said they would use their real estate professional again or recommend them to others.


  • Eighty-six percent of buyers financed their home purchase.
  • For 60 percent of homebuyers, the source of their down payment came from their savings; 46 percent of buyers saved six months or less for their down payment. Thirty-eight percent of buyers used proceeds from the sale of a primary residence¬† to finance a home purchase.
  • Eighty percent of buyers said purchasing a home is a good financial investment.


  • The most commonly cited reason for selling a home was that it was too small, followed by job relocation, and the desire to move closer to family and friends.
  • Eighty-nine percent of sellers worked with a real estate professional to sell their home (95 percent in the Pacific region).
  • Sellers typically lived in their home for nine years before selling, down from 10 years in the previous year’s report.
  • Sellers said they sold their homes for a median of $40,000 more they paid for them.


  • Eight percent of home sales were FSBO transactions, down from nine percent last year and the lowest share recorded since the survey started in 1981.
  • FSBO homes typically sold for less than the selling price of those assisted by real estate professionals — $210,000 versus $245,000.

(Illustration: Flickr/Guy Kilroy)

Shared with permission from the Pacific Union Blog