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U.S. home buying process - statistics & facts

Buying a home has long been seen as a sign of financial stability and an excellent investment. The median income of home buyers in the United States is more than double the national median income, which puts this part of the American Dream out of reach for many people. In addition, the share of renters who are confident in their knowledge of various elements of the home buying process varies considerably. This perceived knowledge gap may affect their decision to buy a home.

Real estate professionals, such as real estate agents and realtors, can help bridge this gap for home buyers. In 2018, most home buyers employed the services of a real estate agent during their house hunt. However, the share of home buyers who researched their agent before hiring them varied along generational lines with Millennials being the most likely and Baby Boomers being the least likely to do so. The average commission rate for agents was 5.08 percent in 2018, down from its 1992 level of 6.04 percent.

Different types of homes suit different environments and space limitations better than others, such as single-family homes in leafy suburban areas, and apartments in densely populated urban areas. The most popular home type across all age groups was the detached single-family home in 2018. Technology has become an integral part of life over the past few decades and the housing sector is no exception. Younger generations view smart home capabilities as highly important in their home search, whereas older people typically don't.

The myth that young people cannot afford to buy homes due to their avocado toast habit is prevalent, though unlikely to be the sole cause. In 2019, four out of five potential first-time buyers did state that they had to reduce their spending in order to afford a home, but no particular type of expenditure was specified. Most first-time Millennial home buyers saved for their down payment directly from their paychecks, with less than 20 percent saying that they received a cash gift from family.


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