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90+ Must-Know Home Buying And Mortgage Statistics For 2021

Victoria Araj16-minute read

March 17, 2021

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The housing market is rapidly evolving, so it’s important to pay attention to trends and understand how different factors can affect each other. One way to better understand the market is to analyze overarching themes and different real estate statistics. To give home buyers a better understanding of this information, we’ve focused on mortgage trends and home buying statistics.

Below is a table that you can use to jump to your desired section. We’ve also created a graphic with the most important takeaways and stats for the remainder of 2021.

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Home Buying Statistics

 Buying a home is a dream for many Americans. We included a variety of different home buying stats to show how this American dream has been bringing families and communities together. This includes homeownership rates, types of homes, preferred neighborhoods, the buying process and age-related data on home buyer preferences and practices.

Below are a few highlights from the following home buying stats sections:

  • The top reported first step in a home buyer's process was looking online for properties for sale (44%), followed by contacting a real estate agent (16%). (National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), 2020)
  • 61% of buyers aged 30 – 39 had one or more children under the age of 18 residing in the home. (NAR, 2020)
  • The two most desired home features across generations are a primary bedroom with a private primary bathroom and a fenced-in backyard. (Coldwell Banker, 2020)
  • In the third week of April 2020, there were only 48,965 new home listings, down 50% when compared to new listings in the same week of April 2019. (Redfin, 2020)
  • The most unaffordable area to live (when factoring in median income) is the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, California, area – only 12.7% of properties are affordable to the median household. The most affordable area is Binghamton, New York, as 99% of properties are affordable based on the median household income. (Joint Centers for Housing Studies (JCHS) of Harvard University, 2020)
  • On average, buyers spend 10 weeks searching for a home. (NAR, 2020)

Home Buyer Stats: Motivations And Characteristics

“61% of recent buyers were married couples, 17% were single females, 9% were single males and 9% were unmarried couples.” (NAR, 2020)

Whether you’re buying or selling your home, it pays to understand the motivations and characteristics of the buyer market. For example, as a buyer, you may find a way to snap up a great deal by going after a fixer-upper that’s drawing less attention than a nearby move-in ready home – especially if you’re looking for a starter home and could use the extra funds.

 

  1. The highest reported reason for purchasing a home was the desire to be a homeowner, reported by 29% of all buyers. (NAR, 2020)
  2. The median homeowner salary in the U.S. is $72,615 and renters' is $35,962. When looking at home prices and income, 82% of homes are affordable for the median owner, while only 42% of rentals are affordable to the median renter. (JCHS of Harvard University, 2020)
  3. First-time buyers made up 33% of all home buyers in 2020. (NAR, 2020)
  4. 29% of all home buyers felt they made no compromises in the home they purchased. The top reported compromises were the price, condition and the size of the home. (NAR, 2020)
  5. When looking at prior living arrangements, 38% rented an apartment or house before purchasing. (NAR, 2020)
  6. As home buyers, single women outnumbered single men 17% to 9%, respectively, in 2020. (NAR, 2020)
  7. 61% of home buyers were married couples, 17% were single females, 9% were single males, and 9% were unmarried couples. (NAR, 2020)
  8. Home buyers who have children under the age of 18 living at home accounted for 35% of all buyers. (NAR, 2020)
  9. Those numbers were higher when looking at buyers 30 – 39 years old, 61% reported having at least one child (under 18) living in the home. (NAR, 2020)
  10. Buyers ages 40 – 54 had the highest household incomes of any generation at $110,900 in 2018. (NAR, 2020)

Homeownership Rates

stat call out with map

So, who’s buying homes these days? People of all ages and backgrounds. Homeownership rates can be a sign of overall economic standings of an area or a group of people. See some of these different rates broken down by various factors and demographics.

11. U.S. homeownership rate dropped to 65.8% in Q4 of 2020 compared to:

  • 9%: Q2 2020
  • 4%: Q3 2020

12. In Q1 2020, the homeownership rate was highest in the Midwest (69.2%), followed by the South (67.6%), the Northeast (62.4%) and the West (60.1%). (Housing Vacancy Survey, 2020)

13. In Q1 2020, The homeownership rate was highest for those householders aged 65 years and over (78.7%) and lowest for those under 35 (37.3%). (Housing Vacancy Survey, 2020)

14. The homeownership rates for households with income greater than or equal to the median family income were:

  • 4%: Q4 2020
  • 8%: Q4 2019

15. The homeownership rate for households with income less than the median family income were:

  • 3%: Q4 2020
  • 4%: Q4 2019

Buying Process

“93% of buyers reported using an online website for information regarding their home search and 87% reported using a real estate agent.” (NAR, 2020)

The home buying process can be a confusing journey for those new to the inner workings of real estate. See stats on the buying process including info on the length of the process and common practices.

Outcomes And Preferences

16. Home sale prices in February 2021 were up 15% when compared to sale prices in February 2020. (Redfin, 2021)

17. The median purchase price when evaluated as a percent of the asking price was between 95% and 99% across all buyers. (NAR, 2020)

18. In the third week of April 2020, there were only 48,965 new home listings, down 50% when compared to new listings in the same week of April 2019. (Redfin, 2020)

19. The top three most difficult parts of the home buying process are finding the right property, paperwork and understanding the home buying process. 18% of buyers reported that there were no difficult steps. (NAR, 2020)

20. 69% of buyers did not consider buying a home in foreclosure. For those 64 and older, that percentage was 80 – 85%.” (NAR, 2019)

Information And Methods

21. The top reported first step in a home buyer's process was looking online for properties for sale, reported at 44% followed by contacting a real estate agent at 16%. (NAR, 2020)

22. 52% of all buyers found their home through the internet and 29% used a real estate agent. (NAR, 2020)

23. A majority (56%) of Americans who previously worked with a real estate agent cite excellent customer service skills as one of the most important qualities for an agent to possess; excellent customer service skills were defined as: kept in touch/followed up, explained things well, made themselves readily available. (Coldwell Banker, 2020)

24. 93% of buyers reported using an online website for information regarding their home search and 87% reported using a real estate agent. (NAR, 2020)

Timing And Search Duration

25. When looking at the timing of a home purchase, 17% of buyers felt that they did not have much choice and had to purchase when they did, and 3% wished they had waited. (NAR, 2020)

26. The average showing index for a single home in December 2020 increased from the index the previous year, 156 and 95.5, respectively. (ShowingTime, 2021)

27. On average, buyers spent 10 weeks searching for a home. (NAR, 2020)

28. Thursday is the best day to list a property, as it's fresh in a buyer's mind as they go into the weekend for showings. (Redfin, 2019)

29. Buyers who called a real estate agent, searched on their own for two weeks before calling an agent. (NAR, 2020)

30. Buyers viewed an average of nine houses during their home search. (NAR, 2020)

Type Of Home

stat call out image

Homes come in all shapes and sizes, ages and styles – some new construction and some previously owned fixer-uppers. Each property has its own pros and cons, so understanding what’s desirable could give you a leg up in negotiations. Some of the most important characteristics to buyers were things like move-in ready property perks and privacy.

Home Characteristics

31. The two most desired home features across generations are a primary bedroom with a private primary bathroom and a fenced-in backyard. (Coldwell Banker, 2020)

32. 83% of all homes bought in 2020 were detached single-family homes. (NAR, 2020)

33. Carpeting is less popular among all three generations, with 20% of millennials, 21% of Gen X and 21% of boomers saying that carpeting would make them more likely to purchase a home. (Coldwell Banker, 2020)

34. Respondents age 55–64 were the most likely (11%) to purchase one or more investment properties. (NAR, 2020)

New Vs. Previously Owned

35. New home purchases made up a 13% share and previously owned homes made up 87%. (NAR, 2020)

36. Top three reasons reported in favor of purchasing a new home include avoiding renovations, the ability to customize and the amenities of new home communities. (NAR, 2020)

37. Top three reasons reported in favor of purchasing a previously owned home include better value, better overall price and more charm or character. (NAR, 2020)

Home Size

38. Roughly seven in 10 millennials (70%) and Gen Xers (71%) say they would be willing to sacrifice home size for a move-in ready home. Boomers agree but at a lower rate (63%). (Coldwell Banker, 2020)

39. The typical home purchased in 2020:

  • Had three bedrooms and two bathrooms
  • Was 1,850 square feet
  • Was built in 1990

40. Buyers aged 40 – 54 purchased the largest median home size at 2,000 square feet; buyers 28 and younger bought the smallest properties with an average size of 1,600 square feet. (NAR, 2020)

Neighborhood 

neighborhood affordability statistic call out graphic

“Location, location, location” has been shown to be the home buying priority once again. Let’s look at what makes a desirable neighborhood and property location.

Neighborhood Characteristics

41. Eight in 10 (81%) Americans agree that they value the location of their home over the size, with all generations in agreement: boomers (79%), Gen Xers (79%) and millennials (81%). (Coldwell Banker, 2020)

42. The top reported factors that influenced neighborhood choice was the quality of the neighborhood, job convenience and the overall affordability of the homes. (NAR, 2020)

43. The most unaffordable area to live (when factoring in median income) is the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, California area, only 12.75% of properties are affordable to the median household. The most affordable area is Binghamton, New York as 99% of properties are affordable based on the median household income.” (JCHS of Harvard University, 2020)

44. Nearly three out of four boomers (72%), Gen Xers (73%) and millennials (73%) want to live close to their families. (Coldwell Banker, 2020)

45. For the median homeowner household, neighborhood affordability is 82.3% nationwide, compared to 41.9% of renters. (JCHS of Harvard University, 2020)

Senior-Specific Preferences

46. Senior-related housing was purchased at a share of 10% by buyers ages 55–64, 17% by buyers ages 65 – 73 and 26% by buyers ages 74 – 94+.  (NAR, 2020)

47. When looking at neighborhood choices, seniors ages 65+ reported the quality of the neighborhood to be the most important. (NAR, 2020)

48. Some buyers ages 65 – 73 reported they are living in their forever home and would never move (32%), while 25% reported they would move for a household member’s health. (NAR, 2020)

Millennial Home Buying Stats

millennials home buying statistic call out graphic

Millennials are often dragged in the media, sometimes with claims of choosing avocado toast over purchasing a home. This has been debunked. We’ve been shown that millennials are serious buyers who want to grow their wealth and be happy in their own property – just as much as other generations. We wanted to round up some stats on this important buyer and seller market segment.

 

49. The top reason reported for purchasing a new home was to avoid renovations or issues with plumbing or electricity – this was listed by 39% of all buyers and 53% of those 28 and younger. (NAR, 2020)

50. Those 29 and younger purchased homes with a median price of $206,300. (NAR, 2020)

51. Buyers aged 30 – 39 had an average median home purchase price of $282,000. (NAR, 2020)

52. Millennials made up the largest share of home buyers at 38% in 2019. (NAR, 2020)

53. 52% of all buyers found the home they bought on the internet. (NAR, 2020)

54. In 2020, millennials are also more likely to believe that they will live in their dream home at some point in their life. Other age groups are not as hopeful:

  • Millennials: 81%
  • Gen Xers: 75%
  • Boomers: 67%

55. 55% of people under the age of 29 rented before purchasing a home. For those aged 30 – 39, 51% rented before purchasing in 2020. (NAR, 2020)

56. Of buyers ages 22 – 29, 45% reported that commuting costs were very important. (NAR, 2020)

57. About 72% of millennials reported they purchased a new home to avoid renovations or plumbing/electricity issues. (NAR, 2020)

58. 42% of those 28 and younger considered buying a home in foreclosure and 38% of those 29 – 38 considered the option. (NAR, 2019)

59. A majority (54%) of millennials say living close to bars and nightlife is important; those numbers drop slightly for Gen Xers (46%) and boomers (34%). (Coldwell Banker, 2020)

60. The most important environmentally friendly home feature for 35% of all home buyers were heating and cooling costs. (NAR, 2020)

61. The top three factors that could cause buyers 29 and younger to move are life changes, followed by wanting a larger home. (NAR, 2020)

Mortgage Statistics

 Your mortgage will have a big impact on your future financial situation. Selecting the right mortgage is a crucial part of the home buying process – things like getting preapproved or having a great credit score can help you finance the home of your dreams.

See a couple of highlights from the following mortgage statistics:

  • The total number of closed-end mortgage originations increased from 6.4 million (2018) to 8.1 million (2019) – an increase of 26%. (HMDA, 2019)
  • Paying down debt is the No. 1 reason some Americans struggle to afford their first home, cited by 26% of home buyers. (Coldwell Banker, 2020)
  • The median monthly mortgage payment was $1,609 in 2019. (S. Census Bureau, 2019)
  • From January – March 2020, the average noncommercial conventional 30-year mortgage loan amount was $178,400. (Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), 2021)
  • When looking at new, approved, noncommercial mortgages, the average credit score was 722 in from January – March 2020. (FHFA, 2021)

Mortgage Figures And Stats

 “The median monthly mortgage payment was $1,609 in 2019.” (US Census Bureau, 2019)

Below we look at some different aspects of mortgages including origination rates, types of home loans and the popularity of different types of mortgages.

62. The number of closed-end originations in 2019 increased by 26%, from 6.4 million in 2018 to 8.1 million in 2019. (HMDA, 2019)

63. The median asking price for units being sold was $214,600 in Q4 2020. (U.S. Census Bureau, 2020)

64. The number of home improvement loans secured by dwellings declined slightly from 183,000 in 2018 to 174,000 in 2019. (HMDA, 2019)

65. Over a 5-year period, the total yearly mortgage origination volume showed growth of 32% from April 2014 (479,506) to April 2019 (630,411), a 3% growth was observed from April 2018. (610,271). (Consumer Finance, 2019)

66. When looking at mortgage market shares in 2019, FHA loans made up 16.7% of the home purchases compared to 18.3% in 2014 – for refinancing that figure is 10.9%, compared to 7.9% in 2014. (Federal Housing Administration, 2020)

67. FHA/VA mortgage loans make up about 20% of the market. (JCHS of Harvard University, 2020)

68. In 2019, approximately 7% of home-purchase loans went to Black borrowers, up from 6.7% in 2018. 60.3% went to non-Hispanic white borrowers, down slightly from 62%. (HMDA, 2019)

69. Asian borrowers increased their share of refinance loans for a first-lien, one-to-four-family, owner-occupied, site-built properties from 3.7% to 5.4% in 2019. (HMDA, 2019)

70. The median mortgage payment was $1,609 in 2019. (U.S. Census Bureau, 2019)

Mortgage Rate Stats

Mortgage rates have been hitting all-time lows in recent months. Some people have been able to take advantage of the opportunity and secure a historically low rate. Since rates change all the time, you should use a mortgage rate tool to track their movements. See top stats and historic Freddie Mac rate averages below:

 

71. In Q3 of 2020, the average 30-year fixed-rate was 2.95% compared to 3.67% during the same time in 2019 – average 15-year fixed-rate interest is down from 3.13% to 2.46%, respectively. (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)), 2020)

72. 30-year mortgage rates remain low, averaging 2.74% in January 2021. (Freddie Mac, 2021)

73. See annual average 30-year mortgage rates over the past 20 years (according to Freddie Mac):

 

30-Year Mortgage Rates

Year

Annual Average

Year

Annual Average

2001

6.97%

2011

4.45%

2002

6.54%

2012

3.66%

2003

5.83%

2013

3.98%

2004

5.84%

2014

4.17%

2005

5.87%

2015

3.85%

2006

6.41%

2016

3.65%

2007

6.34%

2017

3.99%

2008

6.03%

2018

4.54%

2009

5.04%

2019

3.94%

2010

4.69%

2020

3.11%

 

74. The average annual 30-year mortgage rate for 2020 was 3.11%. (Freddie Mac, 2021)

75. See annual average 15-year mortgage rates over the past 20 years (according to Freddie Mac):

 

15-Year Mortgage Rates

Year

Annual Average

Year

Annual Average

2001

6.50%

2011

3.70%

2002

5.98%

2012

2.93%

2003

5.17%

2013

3.11%

2004

5.21%

2014

3.29%

2005

5.42%

2015

3.09%

2006

6.07%

2016

2.93%

2007

6.03%

2017

3.28%

2008

5.62%

2018

4.00%

2009

4.57%

2019

3.39%

2010

4.10%

2020

2.61%

 

76. The average annual 15-year mortgage rate for 2020 was 2.61%. (Freddie Mac, 2021)

77. Surprisingly, house prices – which are a key determinant of mortgage credit quality – have not softened, and are still rising at about the 5% rate as of April 2020. (JCHS of Harvard University, 2020)

Mortgage Denial Rates And Acceptance Rates

mortgage application denial rates by race bar graph graphic

In addition to mortgage rates, we wanted to look into mortgage denials and acceptances as well as average loan sizes and credit scores. See some stats and charts below:

78. The denial rate for refinance loans decreased between 2018 and 2019 by 33.8%, compared with a 10% decrease for home-purchase loans. (HMDA, 2019)

79. The table below shows the breakdown of mortgage application denials by race as recorded by the 2017 FFIEC Home Mortgage Disclosure Act.

 

Race

Total Applications

Total Denied

Denial Rate

Native American

17,711

4,748

26.8%

Black

190,552

4,8201

25.3%

Latino

318,213

55,609

17.5%

Hawaiian

10,410

1,385

13.3%

White

2,955,150

30,5618

10.3%

Asian

313,472

27,946

8.9%

 

80. When looking at new, approved, noncommercial mortgages, the average credit score was 722 in from January – March 2020. (FHFA, 2021)

81. For those with a credit score under 600, their share of the total new mortgages was only 7.4% from January – March 2020. (FHFA, 2021)

82. The average loan-to-value ratio was 67.2% from January – March 2020 for nonenterprise mortgages. (FHFA, 2021)

83. The average property value was $329,100 from January – March 2020 and the average purchase price was also $329,100. (FHFA, 2021)

84. From January – March 2020 the average mortgage loan amount was $266,300. (FHFA, 2021)

Mortgage Debt Statistics

“7.65% of mortgages were past due as of Q3 2020.” (HUD, 2020)

Debt related to housing is the largest category of American debt, in front of other loans like auto, student and credit card loans. When lenders evaluate a potential mortgage recipient, they look closely at your debt-to-income ratio, so it’s very important to stay on top of your debt. 

85. In 2019, mortgage debt hit $9.406 trillion. The previous recorded high was $9.296 trillion in 2008. (Federal Reserve Bank of New York)

86. There was $1.05 trillion in newly originated mortgage debt in Q3 of 2020, compared to $662 billion in Q1 of 2020. (Center for Microeconomic Data, 2020)

87. Paying down debt is the No. 1 reason some Americans struggle to afford their first home. Among those who have purchased a home, 26% cite this as the main reason they struggled to afford their first home, just 6% say spending on luxury items, just 5% say dining out at restaurants and just 5% say travel. (Coldwell Banker, 2020)

88. According to HUD’s quarterly report, delinquency rates for Q3 2020 are as follows:

  • All loans past due: 7.65%
  • 90+ days past due: 4.78%
  • Seriously delinquent: 5.16%

All delinquency rates increased when compared to Q3 2019.

89. About 132,000 consumers had a bankruptcy notation added to their credit reports in Q3 of 2020, a small decrease from the 189,000 seen in Q1 of 2020. (Center for Microeconomic Data, 2020)

90. In Q3 of 2020, 0.6% of current mortgage balances became 30 or more days delinquent. (Center for Microeconomic Data, 2020)

91. Around 16,000 people had a new foreclosure added to their credit reports between July 1 and September 30, 2020 – the lowest level since 1999

Home Buying And Mortgage Loan Q&A

 Mortgages and home buying can be confusing (but they don’t have to be with a Home Loan Expert on your side). See some of the most asked home buying questions and their answers below:

Which Age Group Buys The Most Houses?

Millennials were the largest home buying age group in 2020 – they made up 37% of the total home buyers. (NAR, 2020)

What Percentage Of Home Buyers Start Their Search Online?

44% of home buyers started their search online in 2020 and 52% of all buyers found their home through the internet, though it wasn’t necessarily their first step. (NAR, 2020)

How Many Mortgage Originations Are There In A Year?

The number of closed-end originations in 2019 was 8.1 million (an increase of 26%), from 6.4 million in 2018. (HMDA, 2019)

What Is The Average Mortgage In The US?

The median mortgage payment is $1,609 per month. (U.S. Census Bureau, 2019)

How Many Americans Have A Mortgage?

The census estimates that 48,603,972 Americans had a mortgage in 2019. (U.S. Census Bureau, 2019)

Home Buying Stats and Trends Visual Summary

 See and share a culmination of some of the most important home buying statistics for 2021 in the visual below.

 

most common home buying process graphic

If you’re thinking about refinancing or taking steps toward becoming a homeowner, learn more about mortgages and the process of buying a home. We have curated home buying checklists, mortgage calculators and many other helpful tools to help you explore and understand your options. Ready to take the next step? Talk to one of our Home Loan Experts for any mortgage help and questions.

Take the first step toward the right mortgage.

Apply online for expert recommendations with real interest rates and payments.

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Victoria Araj

Victoria Araj is a Section Editor for Quicken Loans and held roles in mortgage banking, public relations and more in her 15+ years with the company. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism with an emphasis in political science from Michigan State University, and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Michigan.