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Real Estate Stats: Buyer Demographics Over The Decade

houses little bitty housesIn the last decade, a lot has changed in the real estate industry from how buyers go through the process to how prices have changed while some things haven’t changed like the median age of buyers, according to the National Association of Realtors.

“The real estate industry has seen tremendous change and evolution over the past decade,” said NAR President Vicki Cox Golder. “As the first, best source for real estate information, Realtors® have not only anticipated and adapted to the evolving needs of their clients and customers, but also have influenced industry trends and innovations that will carry us into the future.”

Knowing the difference between now and a decade ago is not only brain candy but great information to share with your own blog readers- tell them if these stats are true in your own experience or how they differ in your practice:

  1. 1999: 37% of buyers searched for a home online. 2009: 90% of buyers searched for a home online.
  2. 1999: median home value is $137,600. 2009: median home value is $172,600 (but not that some reports reflect that when accounting for inflation, the value hasn’t changed at all this decade).
  3. 1999: 82% of buyers purchased detached, single family homes. 2009: 78% of buyers purchased detached, single family homes.
  4. 1999: 46% of buyers choose suburban neighborhoods. 2009: 54% of buyers choose suburban neighborhoods.
  5. 1999: 68% of buyers were married couples. 2009: 60% of buyers are married couples.
  6. 1999 and 2009: the median age for buyers was 39.
  7. 1999 and 2009: “neighborhood quality, affordability, and convenience to work and school have consistently been top priorities.”

Overall the only major shift has been in the rise of online search which was predictable but I’m personally a bit surprised at the drop in number of married couples. Which stats most strike you?

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Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.



  1. Joe Loomer

    December 31, 2009 at 7:44 am

    Numbers 3 & 4 strike me as significant. A four-percent drop in detached home purchases with a simultaneous eight-percent migration to the suburbs? There’s something in there, just don’t know what.

    The eight percent increase in number 4 just kinda tells me folks are tired of the rat-race and want their home life to be sedate, comfortable, and quiet(ter). It also tells me to focus my agents’ efforts on farming those areas more ;).

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  2. Artur | Central Phoenix

    December 31, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    What I’d like to know is ‘why’.

    What is the reason for the change in no. 4? Could it be as Joe stated or could it be affordability in urban areas is down and people have to move out to buy. It probably depends on the city, but there is a revival of urban living which to some extent has raised the prices of homes in those areas forcing others to seek shelter in the suburbs.
    This may account for less single family homes selling. Maybe? Without that knowledge, however we read the numbers is speculation.

  3. Deirdre Ramirez

    December 31, 2009 at 8:39 pm

    #5 A few of the couples that I sold to this past year were not married; but, they were comfortable purchasing a home together. Whatever their reasons for not tying the knot, they are now tied together in a home purchase. A home purchase requires: qualified buyers, a purchasable home and a realtor who is willing to help buyers get what they want. Any “couple” may buy a home, and should if they can and want to do so; better than canceled checks for another. Pooling of funds and assets today is also a great way to buy and with the tax incentive for buyers numerous “couples” took the leap. So much for rambling.
    Statisically: #5 An 8% reduction in the actual percentage would only be relevant in correlation to the amount of homes sold.

  4. John Cleek

    December 31, 2009 at 10:40 pm

    Number 1 is significant though not surprising.
    Number 5 is interesting on the surface but significant if you drill down a level. In 2009, married couples accounted for 69% of the repeat buyers and only 49% of the first-time buyers. That is significant!
    And one comparison you did not include is the percentage of buyers. As recent as 2006, first-time buyers accounted for only 36% of the total but in 2009 the percentage increased to 47%.

  5. Joe Spake

    January 1, 2010 at 11:06 pm

    Number 5 is most interesting to me, especially in light of John Cleek’s comment. I would also like to see that stats on single buyers broken down by sex, as it seems that, from my experience, a significantly higher number of single females vs single males are buying.

  6. Diane Guercio

    January 2, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    We have seen many couples purchase here who were not married, as well. I think that the median age of buyers remaining at 39 is significant, given the aging of this society in general. And, Joe- I have seen the propensity of single female residential buyers here, too, although I have seen more single male investment buyers. I wonder if that is a trend.

  7. Jo-Alice Davis

    January 2, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    I’m thinking Texas may have a good deal to do with #3 and #4. In 1999 we had very few Condos and Townhomes, now we have thousands. And that ties in with number 5 in that more singles probably purchase attached homes. I don’t know and haven’t found the questions and choices for the stats but if one of the choices was “outlying areas” for #4, we see many people moving back into the suburbs from outlying areas. Which ties back into the price of gas.

  8. Jeanne Glaser

    January 4, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    With regards to #5, this past year I worked with a significant number of couples who were not married, but planning to be within the next year or so. In almost every case they said the First Time Home Buyer’s Tax Credit played a role in their decision to buy now instead of waiting until after they tied they knot.

  9. Greg Cook

    January 7, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    I guess it means that the more things change, the more they stay the same (on line search excepted). What would be meaningful would be a break down of “online” search. What sites did they use, What site did they come to rely on? How long did they look before they contacted a Realtor? How would they rate the accuracy of the data on the sites they used.

  10. Gabe Sanders

    April 6, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    Pretty impressed with #1 – real values on average haven’t changed . But, in fact have kept up with inflation, which is not such a bad thing.

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