2012 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers: Homebuyer Demographics

by Peter Thomas Ricci


The 2012 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers from NAR offered a great glimpse into homebuyer demographics for 2012, and why this year’s buyers bought their homes.

By Peter Ricci

As a sales-based industry, real estate depends on clients, and as sales personnel, real estate agents benefit when they have a solid grasp of who those clients are and why they are interested in what they are selling – and there is no better source of homebuyer demographics than the National Association of Realtors’ Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers.

So, in our second story on the Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, we’re looking at homebuyer demographics – who 2012’s homebuyers were, why they were buying and what it can tell us about 2013.

Homebuyer Demographics Highlight Tight Lending Environment

First, here is the raw data that NAR uncovered in its surveys, which used more than 8,000 responses in its findings:

  • Sixty-five percent of homebuyers were married couples, which is the highest share for that demographic since 2001.
  • Sixteen percent of buyers were single women, which is actually the lowest share for that group since 2001.
  • Even from two years ago, though, those stats represent a noticeable change – since 2010, the share of married homebuyers has gone up by 12 percent, and the share of single women has gone down by 20 percent.
  • The share of single men also fell, from 12 percent of homebuyers in 2010 to 9 percent in 2012; altogether, the market share of single buyers is down 7 percentage points from 2010.

All those trends, said Paul Bishop, NAR’s vice president of research, lead to one conclusion – the tight lending standards in today’s mortgage markets.

“These findings show single buyers have been hurt the most over the past two years,” Bishop said. “Total home sales would be 10 to 15 percent higher without these unnecessary headwinds.”

Promise of Homeownership Remains Strong in Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers

Even amidst those tough lending standards, though, NAR did uncover one highly promising fact – the promise of homeownership is strong as ever with today’s consumers. Indeed, the most prominent reason for homeownership (and by a wide margin) was the simple desire to own a home, with 30 percent of respondents and 60 percent of first-time homebuyers citing that as the reason for their purchase.

So what can you take away from all this? Home financing may still be a tricky beast, but it’s done little to quell American consumer’s desire to own their own home.

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