BAM Key Details:

  • According to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) 2023 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, released this week, nearly twice as many single women (19%) as single men (10%) are buying homes in today’s market. 
  • Married homebuyers account for the largest share of home purchases at 59%, while unmarried couples have the smallest share of the market (besides “other”) at 9%. 
  • Also, 70% of recent buyers did not have a child under 18 years of age living in their household—the highest share on record. That figure was 42% in 1985. 

The National Association of REALTORS® has released its 2023 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers this week. 

One of the 12 trends highlighted in that profile is a shout-out to single people—and particularly single women, who account for nearly twice as many home purchases as single men. 

While the majority of buyers are married (59%), homeownership has increased among single homebuyers. Single women represent 19% of the market, while single men account for 10%. 

Unmarried couples made the smallest share of home purchases (aside from “other”) at 9%. 

NAR_Adult-composition-of-home-buyer-households-1981-to-2023_chart

Source: NAR

Also noteworthy is the 70% of homebuyers who did not have any children under the age of 18 living in their household. That’s the highest figure yet for this measure and a significant increase from 1985, when 42% of homebuyers had no children under 18 living with them. 

Across the board, though, most home buyers and sellers are choosing to work with real estate agents now more than ever—despite the growing number of commission-related lawsuits. 

It’s an infrequent transaction, completed about two to three times in most people’s lives. It’s the most expensive thing most Americans will ever spend their money on. It’s also the largest driver of generational wealth in the U.S. I believe buyers and sellers will continue to still want to have somebody by their side to educate them on how to do this. There are too many mistakes and risks that could happen by doing it on your own.

James Dwiggins

Co-founder and CEO of NextHome, Inc. in San Francisco

Dwiggin also drove home the point that real estate pros need to better articulate their value as knowledgeable guides through the home buying/selling process—especially in the aftermath of the Sitzer/Burnett verdict. 

Now more than ever, your clients need to understand what you’re doing with them and on their behalf to ensure the best possible outcome for them. 

Not news but still worth a closer look

It’s not really a new thing for more single women than single men to be buying homes. 

Back in February 2020, NBC News posted an article that highlighted single women like personal finance expert and author Sarah Wilson, who are buying homes as an investment in their independence and financial security: 

I’m a 31-year-old single woman who is about to purchase a duplex on my own as both a personal residence and a place to rent out as an additional form of income. I have a large down payment saved and plan to use the rental income to pay the mortgage and eventually buy more properties. 

I have saved aggressively for a home because my whole adult life I’ve been hearing about the wage gap and how women are at a disadvantage, and it made me want to take care of myself financially,” Wilson says. “In a world where I know and have seen how hard it is to be a woman, I feel a need to make sure that I will never be in a vulnerable situation if I can control it. That means budgeting, saving, investing and building my own personal wealth.

Sarah Wilson

According to the NAR chart above, single women accounted for 17% of home purchases in 2019. That figure grew to 18% in 2020 and 19% in 2021 before dropping back to 17% in 2022 and climbing back up to 19% this year. 

Other trends identified in NAR’s Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers

  1. Consumers rely (heavily) on your expertise — further supported by Zillow’s 2023 Consumer Housing Trends Report, which shows 92% of consumers hire a real estate agent to help them with the home buying and/or selling process. 
  2. Most consumers don’t judge you based on your commission — while Zillow’s report shows a lower commission rate is growing in importance among sellers, NAR’s research indicates only 5% of sellers cite the commission rate as an important factor in their choice of agent. 
  3. Higher income buyers remain in the market — The median household income of homebuyers in the market grew by 22% year over year—from $88,000 in 2022 to $107,000 in 2023. 
  4. First-time buyers are on the rise, with more financial options — Market share for first-time homebuyers increased from last year’s historic low of 26% to 32% this year—which is still below the historical norm of 38% market share for first-timers.
  5. Down payments are at their highest in 20 years — The typical down payment for first-time homebuyers in 2023 was 8%—the highest since 1997 (9%). Repeat buyer down payments averaged 19%, which is their highest since 2005 (21%). 
  6. Sellers are getting 100% of the asking price (or more) — With inventory as limited as it is, sellers in 2023 typically sell for 100% of the asking price—same as the year before—with one-third selling above that. Over three-quarters (77%) said they didn’t have to offer any concessions to attract buyers. 
  7. Multigenerational living remains popular — 14% of buyers were motivated to buy a home in order to accommodate multiple generations in their household. The most common reasons for choosing multigenerational living included caring for aging parents, saving money on living expenses and childcare, and providing space for relatives over 18 years of age who were moving back home. 
  8. Homeowners want to stay right where they are — The typical seller in 2023 lived in their home for a full decade. And buyers are saying they expect to live in their home for a median of 15 years, with 22% saying they don’t plan to ever move. Homeownership tenure is highest among 45- to 64-year olds and shortest among those aged 18 to 44.  
  9. Today’s buyers are more racially and ethnically diverse — The homeownership rate increased to 7% for Black and Hispanic buyers, 6% for Asian/Pacific Islanders, and 6% for those identifying as another race. One in ten buyers were born outside the U.S., up from 8% in 2022. White buyers still have the highest homeownership rate at 81%, though that’s a 7% drop from 88% in 2022. 
  10. Newly built homes are attracting more buyers — As the inventory of existing homes remains low, slightly more buyers report buying a new home in 2023 compared to last year. Most of these buyers say they did so to avoid renovations and potential issues with old plumbing or electrical wiring. Buyers who purchased existing homes say they considered it more affordable than a newly built home. 
  11. Sellers aren’t moving as far away — The median distance sellers are moving to a new home decreased from 50 miles to just 20 this year, which is more in line with the historical norm of around 15 years. Also, fewer sellers are moving across state lines compared to 2022. The most common reasons for selling included the desire to live closer to family and friends (23%), upgrade to a larger home (13%) or a life change like marriage, divorce, or planning for a new birth (10%). 

Read the full report for more information.