The National Association of Realtors® has released its 2017 Profile of Home Buyers and sellers. Single women were the second-largest segment of the buyer market at 18%, behind married couples, who make up 65% of the market. The percentage of single women, the highest since 2011, is partially attributable to a more favorable job and income prospects.
The survey also found that 92% of all purchases and sales involved real estate agents, leaving just 8% of the transactions were for-sale-by-owner, an all-time low.
The average age of first-time buyers stayed the same, at 32 years, while that of repeat buyers increased slightly from the previous year to 54 from 52 years of age.
First-timers’ income was slightly higher than last year, $75,000 compared to $72,000, while the older repeat buyers reported household income roughly the same: $97,500 compared with $98,000 from the previous year.
Repeat buyers chose houses of the same size from last year, 2,000 square feet, but they paid more for them: $266,500 compared with last year’s average of $250,000.
Most buyers continue to prefer the suburbs; 85% bought in the outlying areas, compared with just 13% remaining in cities. Single-family detached homes retain their preferential position in the inventory, accounting for 87% of the sales for the third straight year. Inventory shortage continues to play a significant part in rising prices; 42% of the buyers paid asking price or higher for their homes compared to 40% last year, but in the western states, 51% paid the list price or higher.
Public perception of the market likely plays a part in these numbers. Although lending standards have remained essentially the same for several years, prospective buyers seem to be more confident in their ability to qualify for a mortgage. The minimum credit standards for conventional loans remains at 620, and 580 for FHA loans. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the investors who buy most mortgages in the U.S., have loosened their qualifying standards slightly, allowing higher debt-to-income ratios than before, allowing more buyers to qualify.