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US Home Buying Process Market Report

Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Home Buying Process market, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Mintel has the answers you’re looking for

What are the key challenges facing the industry? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

Key points included

  • The state of the housing market
  • Home buying preferences
  • Total number of homes visited
  • Attitudes toward home buying

Covered in this report

This report analyzes behaviors and attitudes towards buying a home, including the number of homes visited, home buying preferences and lifestyle priorities.

For the purposes of this report, “home” is used to mean any dwelling – apartment, condominium, house or mobile home.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Jennifer White Boehm, a leading analyst in the Financial Services sector, her extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

Nearly two thirds of US consumers own single-family homes, and just more than half of home buyers are going through the buying process for the first time. Most consumers visited between 1-5 homes in person, but could be “visiting” hundreds more online. With the advent of online home searches, consumers are almost overwhelmed with the sheer number of homes they could choose Jennifer White Boehm
Associate Director - Financial Services & Automotive

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
      • Executive Summary

        • Overview
          • Themes
            • Tap into the entrepreneurial spirit
              • Agent relationships can go beyond the purchase
                • Show consumers it can be easy to save
                  • What it means
                  • The Market – What You Need to Know

                    • Home ownership rate remains relatively consistent
                      • Mortgage debt nears $10 trillion, while total debt crosses $13 trillion
                        • Majority of US consumers own their home
                          • Just more than half of home buyers are first-timers
                          • State of the Housing Market

                            • Home ownership rate remains relatively consistent
                              • Figure 1: Total US homeownership rate, 2000-18
                            • New home sales rebounding from 2008 crash
                              • Figure 2: Total US single-family new home* sales, 2007-18
                            • Housing starts on the rise
                              • Figure 3: Total new privately owned housing units started, monthly, January 2007-March 2019
                            • Existing-home sales down year over year
                              • Figure 4: Seasonally-adjusted total existing-home sales, March 2018-March 2019
                            • Median new home prices remain over $300K, existing tops $250K
                              • Figure 5: Median sales prices of new houses sold in the United States, January 2007-March 2019
                              • Figure 6: Median sales prices of existing homes sold in the United States, March 2018-March 2019
                          • Market Factors

                            • Mortgage debt nears $10 trillion…
                              • Figure 7: Mortgage debt*, 2007-18
                            • …while total debt crosses $13 trillion
                              • Figure 8: Mortgage share of total debt, 2007-18
                            • Stable job market helps create optimistic housing market
                              • Figure 9: Unemployment and underemployment, January 2009-February 2019
                            • DPI is up year over year
                              • Figure 10: Disposable Personal Income change from previous period, January 2009-January 2019
                            • Median household income
                              • Figure 11: Real median US household income, 2000-17
                              • Figure 12: Median household income, by type of household, 2017
                            • Total household size on the rise, but not with children
                              • Figure 13: Households, by presence of own children, 2008-18
                          • Home Buyer Consumer Breakdown

                            • Market shows equal amount of new and experienced home buyers
                              • Figure 14: Consumers who bought a home in the last 12 months, Fall 2010-Fall 2018
                              • Figure 15: Consumers who plan to buy a home in the next 12 months, Fall 2010-Fall 2018
                            • Just more than half of home buyers are first-timers
                              • Figure 16: First-time versus experienced home buyers, March 2019
                            • Nearly two thirds of US consumers own their home
                              • Figure 17: Primary residence – owned, March 2019
                            • Consumers 25+ are most likely to own their home
                                • Figure 18: Primary residence – owned, March 2019
                              • Home purchase involvement still divided on gender lines
                                • Figure 19: Primary decision-maker versus joint, March 2019
                            • Market Highlight: Impact of Moving

                                • Rental market remains mainly in condos/apartments
                                  • Figure 20: Primary residence – rented, March 2019
                                • Movers significantly more likely to make home-related purchases
                                  • Figure 21: Furniture or appliances purchased in the last 12 months, by home buyer status, November 2018
                              • Key Players – What You Need to Know

                                • Becoming the Amazon of Home Sales
                                  • The end of the starter home?
                                    • Niche home sales
                                    • What’s Happening

                                      • Traditional versus online home buying
                                        • Traditional
                                          • Figure 22: RE/MAX TV commercial – “Tools”
                                        • Online
                                          • Figure 23: Redfin TV commercial – “Things You Don’t Do anymore”
                                        • Zillow to offer in-site mortgages
                                          • Mortgage applications rise year over year, but buyers worry about interest rates
                                          • What’s Struggling

                                            • The end of the starter home?
                                              • Inequality in home lending
                                                • Home Loan Quality Transparency Act
                                                  • Non-White consumers declined home loans at higher rates than White consumers
                                                  • What’s Next

                                                    • Companies to target niche home buyers
                                                      • Buying and selling – all online
                                                        • Opendoor
                                                          • Figure 24: Opendoor Facebook post, “How Opendoor’s costs compare to a traditional home sale”, April 2019
                                                        • Perch
                                                        • Trend in Lending: Quick-to-Close Mortgages

                                                          • Loans are becoming more efficient
                                                            • Figure 25: BB&T Home Mortgage direct mail, September 2018
                                                            • Figure 26: SoFi Home Mortgage direct mail, January 2017
                                                        • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                          • Savings, renovation top list for most important priorities
                                                            • Home buyers likely to consider either previously owned or new
                                                              • Most consumers visit 10 or fewer homes
                                                                • Less than half of consumers use a real estate agent to find or purchase a home
                                                                  • Home ownership still considered a key part of adulthood
                                                                    • Consumers are struggling to save for a down payment
                                                                    • Lifestyle Priorities

                                                                      • Savings, renovation top list for most important priorities
                                                                        • Figure 27: Lifestyle priorities, ranked, March 2019
                                                                      • Younger consumers prioritize finances, employment
                                                                        • Figure 28: Lifestyle priorities, any rank, by age, March 2019
                                                                      • Consumers are struggling to save for a down payment
                                                                        • Figure 29: Opinion on saving for down payment, by generation, March 2019
                                                                    • Home Buying Preferences

                                                                      • Home buyers likely to consider either previously owned or new
                                                                        • Figure 30: Preference for new or previously owned homes, March 2019
                                                                      • Male homeowners are most interested in new construction
                                                                        • Figure 31: Owner preference for new or previously owned homes, by age and gender, March 2019
                                                                      • Non-owners are equally likely to look for new or previously owned homes
                                                                        • Figure 32: Non-owner preference for new or previously owned homes, by generation and geography, March 2019
                                                                    • Number of Homes Visited

                                                                      • Most consumers visit 10 or fewer homes
                                                                        • Figure 33: Number of homes visited, March 2019
                                                                      • Higher income households likely to want more selection
                                                                        • Figure 34: Number of homes visited, by household income, March 2019
                                                                      • Online home search may increase number of houses visited
                                                                        • Figure 35: Number of homes visited, by online home search preference, March 2019
                                                                    • Home Buying Behaviors

                                                                      • Less than half of consumers use a real estate agent to find or purchase home
                                                                        • Figure 36: Use of real estate agent or online home search, March 2019
                                                                      • Millennials rely on agents and internet in home search
                                                                        • Figure 37: Use of real estate agent, by generation, March 2019
                                                                      • First-time home buyers less likely to use agents
                                                                        • Figure 38: Use of real estate agent, by home buyer experience, March 2019
                                                                      • Familial relationships are a strong force in home purchasing
                                                                        • Figure 39: Reasons for moving, by parental status, March 2019
                                                                    • Attitudes toward Home Buying

                                                                      • Home ownership still considered a key part of adulthood
                                                                        • Figure 40: Importance of owning a home, March 2019
                                                                      • Real estate websites are making the process easier…
                                                                        • Figure 41: Interest in online home buying resources, March 2019
                                                                        • Figure 42: Belief that real estate websites make the home search easier, by household income, March 2019
                                                                      • …but consumers are looking for online home buying resources
                                                                        • Figure 43: Interest in online home buying resources, by home buying experience, March 2019
                                                                      • Realtor.com’s “Unreal Reality” helps bring consumers back to earth
                                                                        • Figure 44: Unreal process – realtor.com, April 2019
                                                                    • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                                      • Data sources
                                                                        • Consumer survey data
                                                                          • Direct marketing creative
                                                                            • Abbreviations and terms
                                                                              • Abbreviations
                                                                                • Terms