First-Time Buyers Not Picking “Starter Homes”

The “starter home” trend may be fading in real estate. Prior to the housing bubble, first-time buyers with average incomes would shop for a more affordable, smaller house with the idea of moving on to a larger home in a few years.

Today’s first-time buyers want a home that meets their needs now and in the future. Seventy-five percent of first-time buyers say they prefer to skip the starter home and find a house that meets their long-term needs, according to a survey commissioned by Bank of America in early 2016. Thirty-five percent say they even intend to stay in that home until they retire.

First-time buyers nowadays tend to be higher earners, and due to rising home prices and tighter housing inventories they are wanting to buy a home where they can stay put for a long time.

In 2013, first-time buyers purchased homes with an average of 1,845 square feet. The average home in the U.S., meanwhile, is just 1,819 square feet, according to BuildZoom, a real estate construction firm’s analysis of data from the Census Bureau.

“So those home buyers who probably would have been looking for the lowest-end homes 10 years ago during the housing boom are today just not able to buy. And those that are able to buy are looking further upmarket,” says Issi Romem, chief economist for BuildZoom.

Many first-time buyers aren’t planning to upgrade and move on in five years, like they once did. They plan to stay put.

“When they do purchase, they’re planning on living there longer than buyers that we’ve seen in the past,” says Jessica Lautz, NAR’s managing director of survey research. “They’re expecting to live there 10 years.”

Source: “More First-Time Buyers Skip Starter Home Stage for Bigger, Better,” USA Today (July 17, 2016)

“Copyright NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission”

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