The Shifting Profile of First-Time Homebuyers: 1997-2017

Shannon Rieger, Jonathan Spader, Sean Veal

Who are recent first-time homebuyers? What kinds of homes do they buy? And have the answers to these questions changed over time in response to demographic and economic shifts? These questions garner substantial media attention, but the availability of nationally representative data on the demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of first-time homebuyers and the physical attributes of their homes is limited. The goal of this paper is therefore to release nationally representative estimates of the volume and characteristics of first-time homebuyers using data derived from the biennial American Housing Survey (AHS), the most comprehensive national housing survey in the United States.

This paper describes trends in first-time homebuyer volumes and in selected characteristics using the AHS for 1997-2017. This discussion is supplemented by a detailed set of appendix tables that contain a broader set of homebuyer and housing unit characteristics for first-time homebuyers, as well as similar estimates for repeat homebuyers, all homebuyers, all homeowners, and all households. These tables contain estimates of first-time and repeat homebuyer characteristics that are not available in other published tables, providing a unique resource for readers seeking information about the characteristics of first-time and repeat homebuyers.

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