First-Time Buyers: What Research Tells Us

Use this research to guide you in your interactions with first-time buyers.

April 1, 2010

In 2009, first-time buyers comprised an unprecedented 47 percent of the market, most likely due to the federal tax credit and historic affordability, according to the National Association of Realtors®’ 2009 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. And housing economists predict that 2010 will be an even bigger year for first-timers. 

Who are these people, and what do they want?

- Most are married. Forty-nine percent are a married couple. Single females comprise a quarter of first-time buyers, and single males account for just 12 percent.

- They’re young. More than half—53 percent—are between the ages of 24 and 34. And 12 percent are younger than 24.

- They’re diverse. Twenty-two percent are part of a minority group, compared with 13 percent of repeat buyers. Six percent speak a language other than English, and 12 percent were not born in the United States.

- They like the ‘burbs. Even though 22 percent purchase in an urban area, the suburbs continue to be the most popular locale, with 52 percent buying there. The third most popular spot is a small town.

- They take their time. First-time buyers take an average of 12 weeks to find their home, compared with 10 weeks for repeat buyers.

- They’re not afraid of foreclosures. Eleven percent of first-timers bought a home in foreclosure, and 56 percent considered it. Only 9 percent of repeat buyers bought a foreclosure, and just 41 percent considered it.

- They’re most likely to use a referral. Fifty-three percent found their agent through a referral, compared with 36 percent of repeat buyers, many of whom sought the services of their previous agent.

Read the Research

To compile its 2009 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® last year surveyed more than 9,000 consumers who had recently completed a transaction. As a member of NAR, you can download the complete report for free as part of the Right Tools, Right Now initiative. Go to