Current Owners Are Starving First-Time Buyers of Options

November 4, 2019

The average American homeowner has spent 13 years in their home, a much longer stay than the average eight-year homeownership tenure in 2010, according to a new Redfin analysis. But as homeowners hold onto their properties longer, it's becoming more difficult for first-time buyers to find a home to purchase, the analysis shows. “If people aren’t moving on, there just are fewer and fewer homes available for new-home buyers,” Redfin Chief Economist Daryl Fairweather told The Wall Street Journal.

In some metro areas, homeowners are staying put more than eight years longer than they did in 2010. For example, homeowners in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and Salt Lake City have the longest tenure in the nation. “In Dallas, there are many neighborhoods that were built in the 1950s and 1960s where most of today’s residents are still the original homeowners,” says Redfin real estate pro Christopher Dillard, who works in Dallas. “Because prices have been going up and folks are gaining more and more equity, it’s hard to justify selling when there aren’t many—if any—affordable options.”

Chart of cities with highest homeownership tenure

Homeowners ages 67 to 85 are staying in their homes the longest. In a separate report from Freddie Mac, researchers blamed that trend on a shortage of 1.6 million homes. The median homeownership tenure is highest in Salt Lake City. Inventory has also plummeted 59% from 2010 to 2019, Redfin’s report notes.