Released each year, the National Association of Realtors®’ Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, identifies current consumer and housing trends. This year NAR identified the following trends: tightened inventory; rising student debt balances; a decrease in first-time homebuyers; increasing equity gains for sellers; and the fact that nearly all respondents use a real estate agent to buy or sell a home.

Due to low inventory levels in many areas of the country, buyers are typically purchasing more expensive homes as prices increase. The number of weeks a buyer searched for a home remained at 10 weeks. Buyers continue to report the most difficult task for them in the home buying process was just finding the right home to purchase.

Student debt balances continue to grow and cripple first-time homebuyers. For 13 percent of buyers, the most difficult step in the home buying process was saving for a downpayment. Of buyers who said saving for a downpayment was difficult, 50 percent of buyers reported that student loans made saving for a downpayment difficult.

Forty percent of first-time buyers surveyed indicated they have student debt. The median student debt balance increased to $30,000 in 2018, up from $29,000 in 2017. The median amount of student loan debt for all buyers was $28,000.

In 2018, the median downpayment was 13 percent for all buyers, seven percent for

first-time buyers, and 16 percent for repeat buyers. To compare to this trend, in 1989

the median percent of the downpayment for all buyers was 20 percent, 10 percent

for first-time buyers, and 23 percent for repeat buyers.

At 18 percent, single women were the second most common household buyer type behind married couples who lead the pack at 63 percent. Single males made up 9 percent of buyers in 2018 followed by unmarried couples at 8 percent.

Buyers of new homes made up 14 percent and buyers of previously owned homes made up 86 percent. Most recent buyers who purchased new homes were looking to avoid renovations and problems with plumbing or electricity at 38 percent. Buyers who purchased previously owned homes were most often considering a better price at 32 percent.

Twelve percent of all home buyers purchased a multi-generational home, to take care of aging parents, because of children over the age of 18 moving back home, and for cost-saving.

The two top information resources for buyers remain the internet and real estate agents. Starting the home buying process online continues to be the first step that many home buyers are taking. Forty-four percent of recent buyers first looked online for properties for sale, with 95  percent of all recent buyers using the internet at some point during the home search process.

Overall, 87 percent of buyers sought the advice and counsel of a real estate agent when purchasing a property. Help finding the right property was the top reason buyers sought the counsel of a real estate agent. Even for those who found the home they purchased online, nearly all, 87 percent, still closed on the home with the help of an agent.

For all sellers, the most commonly cited reason for selling their home was that it was too small at 15 percent, followed by the desire to move closer to friends and family at 14 percent, and a job relocation at 13 percent. Sellers typically lived in their home for nine years before selling, down from last year.

For recently sold homes, the final sales price was a median of 99 percent of the final listing price. Ninety-one percent of home sellers worked with a real estate agent to sell their home.

With home values steadily rising over the past several years, sellers realized a median equity gain of $55,500, up from $47,500 in 2017. This accounted for a 29 percent price


Sellers who owned their homes for four to seven years, all reported roughly selling their homes for $52,000 to $68,900 more than they purchased it. That number dropped to $35,000 between eight and 10 years. Homes sold after 21 years of ownership had the largest equity gain of $145,100.

To learn more about the national trends of buyers and sellers, visit the National Association of Realtors® website where you’ll find the complete 2018 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. For more information about buying and selling a home in our Midcoast area, contact your trusted, expert Realtor.

This column is produced by Rick Bisson and his family, who own Bisson Real Estate with Keller Williams Realty of Midcoast and Sugarloaf.

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