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First-Time Homebuyer Statistics

Buying a first home is typically the largest financial decision and commitment most people will ever make. We wanted to find out just how big this impact was on the nation, and what the first-time buyer market looks like. To do this, we have reviewed the most significant reports, research papers, and analyses to provide a comprehensive overview on first-time homebuyer statistics.

Contents

Key first-time homebuyer statistics:

What is a first-time homebuyer? 

It may seem obvious to assume that a first-time buyer is someone who has never purchased property before. However, the definition can extend slightly beyond this. For example, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) [1] U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD): First time buyer definitions - Accessed September 2021 https://archives.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/ref/sfhp3-02.cfm defines some exceptions for first-time buyers such as:

Therefore, a first-time homebuyer is not just someone about to buy their first home. This distinction is important as these exceptions will feed into the statistics. 

However, mortgage lenders and first-time buyer assistance programs may have their own definitions and distinctions, so it is important to do the research to find the program that best suits the individual’s needs. 

First-time homebuyer demographics

In 2020, first-time buyers made up 31% of all homebuyers, the same as in 2019. [3] National Association of Realtors - Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers - Accessed September 2021 https://www.nar.realtor/research-and-statistics/research-reports/highlights-from-the-profile-of-home-buyers-and-sellers But what is the exact makeup of the typical first-time homebuyer? The following is a breakdown of the average demographics for first-time homebuyers in the U.S. 

How old are first-time homebuyers? 

The average age of all first-time homebuyers across all ages and ethnicities is 33 years old [2] Zillow: Older first time house buyers research - Accessed September 2021 https://www.zillow.com/research/older-first-time-house-buyers-23451/ [3] National Association of Realtors - Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers - Accessed September 2021 https://www.nar.realtor/research-and-statistics/research-reports/highlights-from-the-profile-of-home-buyers-and-sellers. However, the average median age of black first-time homebuyers is much older at 39 years old [4] Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Market Snapshot: First-time Homebuyers - Accessed September 2021 https://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/documents/cfpb_market-snapshot-first-time-homebuyers_report.pdf. According to research by The Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis Review [5] Carlos Garriga, Lowell R. Ricketts, and Don E. Schlagenhauf, ‘The Homeownership Experience of Minorities During the Great Recession’ in Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis REVIEW Accessed September 2021 , this vast discrepancy can be attributed to the lasting impacts of the 2007-2008 financial crisis. 

The average age of Latino first-time homebuyers is not stated in any official reports, however, the average age of all Latina homebuyers (first and repeat buyers) is a young 28.9, compared to 43 in white homebuyers.

In 2020, however, 43.6% of Latino homebuyers were under the age of 34, compared to 37.3% of the overall general population, indicating many Latino homebuyers are in the age bracket of first-time homebuyers. [14] The National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals®, 2020 State of Hispanic Homeownership Report https://nahrep.org/downloads/2020-state-of-hispanic-homeownership-report.pdf

Age Who Are First-Time Homebuyers
22 to 30 82%
31 to 40 48%
41 to 55 22%
56 to 65 11%
66 to 74 4%
75 to 95 3%

According to data from 2020 [3] National Association of Realtors - Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers - Accessed September 2021 https://www.nar.realtor/research-and-statistics/research-reports/highlights-from-the-profile-of-home-buyers-and-sellers, when looking at homebuyers per age group, more 22-30-year-olds are first-time homebuyers than any other age range. Reporting on 2020 data, 82% of homebuyers aged 22-30 were first-time buyers. This contrasts with 48% of buyers aged 31-40, and 22% of those aged 40-54. 

Age of first-time homebuyers over time

The average age of first-time buyers has increased from 29 in 1981 to 33 in 2020. [3] National Association of Realtors - Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers - Accessed September 2021 https://www.nar.realtor/research-and-statistics/research-reports/highlights-from-the-profile-of-home-buyers-and-sellers The lowest average age of first-time homebuyers in the last 40 years was in 1991 when it dipped to 28 and it has not been this low since. The below graph shows the average age of first-time homebuyers since 1981, some years are missing as the data was not collected every single year. 

Year Average Age of First-time Homebuyers
1981 29
1985 29
1987 29
1989 30
1991 28
1993 32
1995 31
1997 32
2000 32
2002 31
2003 32
2004 32
2005 32
2006 32
2007 31
2008 30
2009 30
2010 30
2011 31
2012 31
2013 31
2014 31
2015 31
2016 32
2017 32
2018 32
2019 33
2020 33

Race/ethnicity of first-time homebuyers

Generally, most first-time homebuyers are white (66%), followed by Hispanic buyers (14%). Asian (multiracial and other) make up 11% of first-time homebuyers, while Black property buyers make up the remaining 9%. This 2019 study utilized 2017/2018 data but is the latest available at this level of micro-analysis from government figures. [6] Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, ‘The Shifting Profile of First-Time Homebuyers: 1997-2017’ - Accessed September 2021 https://www.jchs.harvard.edu/sites/default/files/First%20Time%20Homebuyers%20Brief%20FINAL_alt.pdf

Ethnicity Percentage of first-time homebuyers
White 66%
Hispanic 14%
Asian, Multiracial, Other 11%
Black/African American 9%

To put these figures into some historical context, the same analysis highlights the change from 1997 where first-time homebuyers looked like this: 

Ethnicity Percentage of first-time homebuyers
White 71%
Hispanic 10%
Asian, Multiracial, Other 5%
Black/African American 14%

In relation to the overall homeownership market, historically homeowners have been mostly white [7] Federal Reserve Bank of New York, ‘Inequality in U.S. Homeownership Rates by Race and Ethnicity’ - Accessed September 2021 https://libertystreeteconomics.newyorkfed.org/2020/07/inequality-in-us-homeownership-rates-by-race-and-ethnicity/. For example, the overall homeownership rate for white households in 2019 was 73.1%, but 46.6% for Hispanic households, and 40.6% for Black households. 

The homeownership rate percentage analyzes the number of American homes that are occupied by the owner divided by the total number of all occupied households. 

Marital status of first-time homebuyers 

Most first-time buyers are unmarried couples [8] National Association of Realtors: 2021 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report - Accessed September 2021 https://cdn.nar.realtor/sites/default/files/documents/2021-home-buyers-and-sellers-generational-trends-03-16-2021.pdf. Six in ten (60%) unmarried couples who are purchasing homes are first-time buyers. This figure is dramatically lower for home-buying Americans who are married with children - only 32% of this group are purchasing their first home. Generally, those who are married parents are three times as likely to have already purchased their first home. 

The reports don’t break down the exact split of first-time buyers and their marital status, but due to the overwhelming proportion of first-time buyers being unmarried, it is a safe assumption that many are cohabiting. 

Gender of first-time homebuyers

Of all single males who are purchasing a house in the U.S., 36% of them are buying their first home. This figure is slightly lower for single females, with 32% of them buying their first home, and 68% purchasing their next property in life. [8] National Association of Realtors: 2021 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report - Accessed September 2021 https://cdn.nar.realtor/sites/default/files/documents/2021-home-buyers-and-sellers-generational-trends-03-16-2021.pdf

For total homebuyers however, which includes both repeat and first-time buyers, there are almost double the number of women than men buying property in the country (17% vs 9%). [8] National Association of Realtors: 2021 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report - Accessed September 2021 https://cdn.nar.realtor/sites/default/files/documents/2021-home-buyers-and-sellers-generational-trends-03-16-2021.pdf

Do first-time buyers rent before buying?

Just over half of first-time buyers rent before buying. [8] National Association of Realtors: 2021 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report - Accessed September 2021 https://cdn.nar.realtor/sites/default/files/documents/2021-home-buyers-and-sellers-generational-trends-03-16-2021.pdf Just over half (55%) of buyers under 29 rented before purchasing their home, and 51% of those aged 30-39 rented too. 

Separately, 28% of all homebuyers aged 22-30 lived with their parents before moving into their first property. Importantly, this data point data does not distinguish this group as definitively first-time buyers. However, they are within the expected age for first-time homeownership and therefore can represent the group of home-buyers. 

Average down payment on a house for first-time homebuyers

One of our recent analyses looked at first-time buyers' down payment amounts, and we found that the average first-time homebuyer down payment amount across the country is $8,220. For repeat buyers, this amount was $51,584 if using a 16% down payment. This is based on a huge variety of datasets, as well as the fact that the average down payment amount for first-time buyers is 6%, rather than the commonly referenced 20%.

Repeat buyers will put down an average of 16%, while homebuyers aged 66-74 years old are likely to put an average of 23% as a down payment, the highest median average of any age group. 

States with highest down-payment for first-time homebuyers

  1. West Virginia ($20,412)
  2. Hawaii ($19,890)
  3. California ($18,318)
  4. Colorado ($14,856)
  5. Washington ($14,622)

States with the lowest down-payments for first-time homebuyers

  1. Wisconsin ($2,538)
  2. Oklahoma ($3,042)
  3. Alabama ($3,168)
  4. Arkansas ($3,408)
  5. Michigan ($3,480)

Average income of first-time homebuyers

The average median take-home income of first-time homebuyers is $47,952, while the average repeat buyer has $50,479 to spend on a home.This amount varies drastically per state and metropolitan area. This comes from the same down payment analysis that  worked out the average first-time buyer demographic and calculated the salary using statistics from the Bureau for Labor Statistics. 

Average cost of a first home in the U.S.

Across the country, the average first-time homebuyer property costs $137,008, with an average 6% down payment of $8,220. In 2019, the average cost of a home for all buyers was around $244,000. 

Average cost of property in the U.S.
First-time buyers $137,008
All buyers $244,000

The data below shows how the pandemic has affected home prices for first-time buyers. 

Average credit scores for first-time homebuyers

In 2021, the average credit score for first-time buyers is 725 [10] Federal Housing Finance Agency, National Mortgage Database (NMDB) Aggregate Data - Accessed September 2021 https://www.fhfa.gov/DataTools/Downloads/Pages/National-Mortgage-Database-Aggregate-Data.aspx, a significant increase from a score of 695 in 2002. Both these scores would fall under VantageScore’s 'Good' range, which is used in this analysis rather than FICO. The average credit score for repeat home buyers is 770. 

First-time buyers have an average credit score of 725, while repeat buyers have a score of 770

According to our own analysis on lifetime interest payments [15] Self Financial, A Life of Interest Payments - Accessed September 2021 https://www.self.inc/info/life-of-interest-payments/, the average home buyer with a credit score of ‘Excellent’ rather than ‘Good’ would save over $10,000 in interest fees across one typical 30-year mortgage. 

Average interest rate for first-time homebuyers

The average interest rate for first-time homebuyers is 2.56% based on 725 being the average credit score for this group. In general, the interest rate on a first-time home mortgage would depend on the credit score of the buyer(s). For a credit score of 770, the average for repeat buyers, a typical mortgage interest rate would be 2.34%. 

Over one average 30-year mortgage, first-time homebuyers would pay almost $10,000 more than repeat buyers. 

30-Year Mortgage Interest for Homebuyers
First-time buyers $98,045
All buyers $88,388

Average size of first-time homebuyers house 

The average size of a first-time home buyer’s house naturally varies per city and state, but nationally, the average is a 1,600-square-foot detached single-family house (80% of first-time buyers purchase this), with an added 10% securing a similarly-sized townhouse instead. Below you can see how the average first-time home compares with the average house size for other buyers, which sits at approximately 2,301 square feet. [11] Statista, ‘Median size of single family housing unit in the United States from 2000 to 2019 - Accessed September 2021’ http://statista.com/statistics/456925/median-size-of-single-family-home-usa/

Size of the Average American's House

Most home buyers (87%) buy a ‘used’ home, with only 13% of all buyers purchasing new construction homes. [12] National Association of Realtors: Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers (2018) - Accessed September 2021 https://www.nahbclassic.org/generic.aspx?sectionID=734&genericContentID=88533&channelID=311

Number of first-time homebuyers over time

Combining various datasets, we have plotted estimates of the proportion of first-time homebuyers over time and how many there were in each year since 2000. In 2020, there were an estimated 1,782,500 first-time home buyers. 

Year Estimated Number of FTBs
2000 2,177,700
2001 2,268,000
2002 2,683,860
2003 2,496,000
2004 2,760,000
2005 2,840,000
2006 2,340,000
2007 1,977,300
2008 1,648,200
2009 2,162,000
2010 1,918,200
2011 1,565,100
2012 1,838,850
2013 1,941,800
2014 1,610,400
2015 1,659,200
2016 1,890,000
2017 1,597,900
2018 1,780,350
2019 1,734,150
2020 1,782,500
2007 Housing Crisis

Since 2000, the proportion of home buyers who are purchasing their first home has been an average of 38%. This was at its highest in 2009 when 47% of home buyers were purchasing for the first time. 2017 figures show the lowest proportion of first-time buyers in the market at 29%, however, the year also saw the highest number of overall home buyers (5,510,000) since 2006 (6,500,000). 

Interestingly, with the 2020 global pandemic severely affecting the economy and consequent housing market, the proportion of first-time homebuyers was 31%, only two percentage points lower than the previous two years.

COVID-19 impact on first-time buyers

In our down payment for first-time buyers analysis, we also found that the COVID-19 impact varied greatly by metros and state. 

On average, housing prices rose by 21.5% across the country, with the largest housing price change reported in Montana at 41.5%. Alaska reported a 7.2% decline, the only state to do so.

State Median home value 2019 Median home value 2021 House price increase (%) Average down payment ($) 2019 Average down payment ($) 2021
State Alabama Median home value 2019 $134,300.00 Median home value 2021$169,224.00 House price increase (%) 26.0% Average down payment ($) 2019 $8,058.00 Average down payment ($) 2021 $10,153.44
State Alaska Median home value 2019 $326,000.00 Median home value 2021$302,569.00 House price increase (%) -7.2% Average down payment ($) 2019 $19,560.00 Average down payment ($) 2021 $18,154.14
State Arizona Median home value 2019 $257,600.00 Median home value 2021$324,087.00 House price increase (%) 25.8% Average down payment ($) 2019 $15,456.00 Average down payment ($) 2021 $19,445.22
State Arkansas Median home value 2019 $129,500.00 Median home value 2021$152,016.00 House price increase (%) 17.4% Average down payment ($) 2019 $7,770.00 Average down payment ($) 2021 $9,120.96
State California Median home value 2019 $555,800.00 Median home value 2021$649,488.00 House price increase (%) 16.9% Average down payment ($) 2019 $33,348.00 Average down payment ($) 2021 $38,969.28
State Colorado Median home value 2019 $381,300.00 Median home value 2021$460,161.00 House price increase (%) 20.7% Average down payment ($) 2019 $22,878.00 Average down payment ($) 2021 $27,609.66
State Connecticut Median home value 2019 $244,800.00 Median home value 2021$299,530.00 House price increase (%) 22.4% Average down payment ($) 2019 $14,688.00 Average down payment ($) 2021 $17,971.80
State Delaware Median home value 2019 $236,300.00 Median home value 2021$295,444.00 House price increase (%) 25.0% Average down payment ($) 2019 $14,178.00 Average down payment ($) 2021 $17,726.64
State Florida Median home value 2019 $237,900.00 Median home value 2021$282,750.00 House price increase (%) 18.9% Average down payment ($) 2019 $14,274.00 Average down payment ($) 2021 $16,965.00
State Georgia Median home value 2019 $193,500.00 Median home value 2021$232,754.00 House price increase (%) 20.3% Average down payment ($) 2019 $11,610.00 Average down payment ($) 2021 $13,965.24
State Hawaii Median home value 2019 $619,000.00 Median home value 2021$700,002.00 House price increase (%) 13.1% Average down payment ($) 2019 $37,140.00 Average down payment ($) 2021 $42,000.12
State Idaho Median home value 2019 $274,200.00 Median home value 2021$352,369.00 House price increase (%) 28.5% Average down payment ($) 2019 $16,452.00 Average down payment ($) 2021 $21,142.14
State Illinois Median home value 2019 $183,500.00 Median home value 2021$233,997.00 House price increase (%) 27.5% Average down payment ($) 2019 $11,010.00 Average down payment ($) 2021 $14,039.82
State Indiana Median home value 2019 $148,700.00 Median home value 2021$180,825.00 House price increase (%) 21.6% Average down payment ($) 2019 $8,922.00 Average down payment ($) 2021 $10,849.50
State Iowa Median home value 2019 $146,500.00 Median home value 2021$168,588.00 House price increase (%) 15.1% Average down payment ($) 2019 $8,790.00 Average down payment ($) 2021 $10,115.28
State Kansas Median home value 2019 $141,500.00 Median home value 2021$179,792.00 House price increase (%) 27.1% Average down payment ($) 2019 $8,490.00 Average down payment ($) 2021 $10,787.52
State Kentucky Median home value 2019 $148,400.00 Median home value 2021$167,425.00 House price increase (%) 12.8% Average down payment ($) 2019 $8,904.00 Average down payment ($) 2021 $10,045.50
State Louisiana Median home value 2019 $147,600.00 Median home value 2021$190,805.00 House price increase (%) 29.3% Average down payment ($) 2019 $8,856.00 Average down payment ($) 2021 $11,448.30
State Maine Median home value 2019 $237,800.00 Median home value 2021$282,091.00 House price increase (%) 18.6% Average down payment ($) 2019 $14,268.00 Average down payment ($) 2021 $16,925.46
State Maryland Median home value 2019 $290,500.00 Median home value 2021$356,098.00 House price increase (%) 22.6% Average down payment ($) 2019 $17,430.00 Average down payment ($) 2021 $21,365.88
State Massachusetts Median home value 2019 $408,100.00 Median home value 2021$500,465.00 House price increase (%) 22.6% Average down payment ($) 2019 $24,486.00 Average down payment ($) 2021 $30,027.90
State Michigan Median home value 2019 $154,500.00 Median home value 2021$201,408.00 House price increase (%) 30.4% Average down payment ($) 2019 $9,270.00 Average down payment ($) 2021 $12,084.48
State Minnesota Median home value 2019 $239,900.00 Median home value 2021$295,438.00 House price increase (%) 23.2% Average down payment ($) 2019 $14,394.00 Average down payment ($) 2021 $17,726.28
State Mississippi Median home value 2019 $130,200.00 Median home value 2021$145,052.00 House price increase (%) 11.4% Average down payment ($) 2019 $7,812.00 Average down payment ($) 2021 $8,703.12
State Missouri Median home value 2019 $163,700.00 Median home value 2021$187,251.00 House price increase (%) 14.4% Average down payment ($) 2019 $9,822.00 Average down payment ($) 2021 $11,235.06
State Montana Median home value 2019 $242,100.00 Median home value 2021$342,508.00 House price increase (%) 41.5% Average down payment ($) 2019 $14,526.00 Average down payment ($) 2021 $20,550.48
State Nebraska Median home value 2019 $169,900.00 Median home value 2021$203,023.00 House price increase (%) 19.5% Average down payment ($) 2019 $10,194.00 Average down payment ($) 2021 $12,181.38
State Nevada Median home value 2019 $291,800.00 Median home value 2021$347,420.00 House price increase (%) 19.1% Average down payment ($) 2019 $17,508.00 Average down payment ($) 2021 $20,845.20
State New Hampshire Median home value 2019 $280,400.00 Median home value 2021$342,464.00 House price increase (%) 22.1% Average down payment ($) 2019 $16,824.00 Average down payment ($) 2021 $20,547.84
State New Jersey Median home value 2019 $329,000.00 Median home value 2021$394,461.00 House price increase (%) 19.9% Average down payment ($) 2019 $19,740.00 Average down payment ($) 2021 $23,667.66
State New Mexico Median home value 2019 $197,400.00 Median home value 2021$236,958.00 House price increase (%) 20.0% Average down payment ($) 2019 $11,844.00 Average down payment ($) 2021 $14,217.48
State New York Median home value 2019 $305,300.00 Median home value 2021$376,534.00 House price increase (%) 23.3% Average down payment ($) 2019 $18,318.00 Average down payment ($) 2021 $22,592.04
State North Carolina Median home value 2019 $189,900.00 Median home value 2021$236,826.00 House price increase (%) 24.7% Average down payment ($) 2019 $11,394.00 Average down payment ($) 2021 $14,209.56
State North Dakota Median home value 2019 $210,000.00 Median home value 2021$252,409.00 House price increase (%) 20.2% Average down payment ($) 2019 $12,600.00 Average down payment ($) 2021 $15,144.54
State Ohio Median home value 2019 $142,600.00 Median home value 2021$175,968.00 House price increase (%) 23.4% Average down payment ($) 2019 $8,556.00 Average down payment ($) 2021 $10,558.08
State Oklahoma Median home value 2019 $125,400.00 Median home value 2021$150,931.00 House price increase (%) 20.4% Average down payment ($) 2019 $7,524.00 Average down payment ($) 2021 $9,055.86
State Oregon Median home value 2019 $350,600.00 Median home value 2021$417,518.00 House price increase (%) 19.1% Average down payment ($) 2019 $21,036.00 Average down payment ($) 2021 $25,051.08
State Pennsylvania Median home value 2019 $176,500.00 Median home value 2021$227,911.00 House price increase (%) 29.1% Average down payment ($) 2019 $10,590.00 Average down payment ($) 2021 $13,674.66
State Rhode Island Median home value 2019 $284,200.00 Median home value 2021$353,498.00 House price increase (%) 24.4% Average down payment ($) 2019 $17,052.00 Average down payment ($) 2021 $21,209.88
State South Carolina Median home value 2019 $170,700.00 Median home value 2021$220,386.00 House price increase (%) 29.1% Average down payment ($) 2019 $10,242.00 Average down payment ($) 2021 $13,223.16
State South Dakota Median home value 2019 $194,700.00 Median home value 2021$237,012.00 House price increase (%) 21.7% Average down payment ($) 2019 $11,682.00 Average down payment ($) 2021 $14,220.72
State Tennessee Median home value 2019 $170,800.00 Median home value 2021$216,622.00 House price increase (%) 26.8% Average down payment ($) 2019 $10,248.00 Average down payment ($) 2021 $12,997.32
State Texas Median home value 2019 $199,900.00 Median home value 2021$240,646.00 House price increase (%) 20.4% Average down payment ($) 2019 $11,994.00 Average down payment ($) 2021 $14,438.76
State Utah Median home value 2019 $351,100.00 Median home value 2021$415,789.00 House price increase (%) 18.4% Average down payment ($) 2019 $21,066.00 Average down payment ($) 2021 $24,947.34
State Vermont Median home value 2019 $210,600.00 Median home value 2021$285,929.00 House price increase (%) 35.8% Average down payment ($) 2019 $12,636.00 Average down payment ($) 2021 $17,155.74
State Virginia Median home value 2019 $264,200.00 Median home value 2021$321,302.00 House price increase (%) 21.6% Average down payment ($) 2019 $15,852.00 Average down payment ($) 2021 $19,278.12
State Washington Median home value 2019 $393,800.00 Median home value 2021$491,228.00 House price increase (%) 24.7% Average down payment ($) 2019 $23,628.00 Average down payment ($) 2021 $29,473.68
State West Virginia Median home value 2019 $99,000.00 Median home value 2021$116,497.00 House price increase (%) 17.7% Average down payment ($) 2019 $5,940.00 Average down payment ($) 2021 $6,989.82
State Wisconsin Median home value 2019 $191,600.00 Median home value 2021$218,373.00 House price increase (%) 14.0% Average down payment ($) 2019 $11,496.00 Average down payment ($) 2021 $13,102.38
State Wyoming Median home value 2019 $236,100.00 Median home value 2021$274,497.00 House price increase (%) 16.3% Average down payment ($) 2019 $14,166.00 Average down payment ($) 2021 $16,469.82

In 2020, the pandemic caused a 5% change, described as a ‘significant movement’, of first-time homebuyers purchasing property in lower-density zip codes as opposed to higher-density areas like cities. This trend was similar across the entire property market, but first-time homebuyers were found to be the primary driving force behind this trend from 2020 onwards. [13] Meeker, Rebecca, and Mota, Nuno, ‘COVID-19’s Impact on Housing Demand in High-Density Areas – Evidence from Purchase Mortgage Applications in Fannie Mae - Accessed September 2021 https://www.fanniemae.com/media/38866/display

Sources

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