Written by Robert H. Ruth

Every year since 2013 the National Association of Realtors (NAR) has published a report looking at trends among buyers and sellers in the Real Estate Industry from the previous year. I’ve always eagerly anticipated this report because it provides excellent insights into the composition of the Real Estate marketplace. This year I thought I’d share some of the more significant findings that are pertinent to home buyers since that is the focus of my blog posts here. If you want to see the report for yourself, I have provided a link for you to download a pdf version here: CLICK HERE

The introduction of the report has much useful information about the composition of buyers in the Real Estate marketplace .  Here are what I felt were significant findings about specific age groups of buyers:

  • Buyers aged 37 and younger (Millennials and Gen Y) makes up the largest share of home buyers at 36%.  The report also stated that 65% of this group were first time buyers.
  • Generation X (buyers between 38 to 52) made up 26% of 2017 home buyers.
  • Baby Boomers are classified in 2 groups : younger boomers (ages 53 to 62) and older boomers (ages 63 to 71). In 2017 younger boomers were 18% of buyers while older boomers were 14% of buyers. Combined, the boomers made up 32% of the purchase market
  • Buyers ages 72 to 92 are called the Silent Generation. They comprised about 6% of the purchase market

Purchase Finance Trends 

In my position as a mortgage banker, I pay close attention to the Purchase Finance Trends . I find this information not only helpful for my own business, but there are usually some significant nuggets of data in the report that reveal insights concerning buyers in the marketplace. Here are the items I found most interesting in this year’s report:

  • 88% of home buyers financed their purchase

    • Age 37 and younger : 98% financed

    • Age 63-71 : 70% financed

    • Age 72+ : 53% financed

I found it curious that such a high percentage of Silent Generation buyers are carrying a mortgage. Perhaps it is due to the ultra-low interest rates, or possibly they did not make as much as they hoped on the sale of their previous residence, or maybe they just wanted to keep themselves with liquidity for the future. 


  • 59% of buyers funds for the transaction came from their personal savings

    • Millennials : 75% used savings for the down payment and closing costs

    • Older Boomers ( age 63-71): 42% used savings

    • The Silent Generation (age 72+): 57% of this group’s savings came from the sale of a residence

  • 13% of all buyers said saving the money for the down payment was the most difficult part of the home buying process. I see this as an ongoing hurdle for first time buyers, particularly when combined with the following 2 statistics :

  • 26% of all buyers had student loan debts. Among all buyers who had student loans, the median debt was $25,000

    • 46% of millennials and Gen Y had student loan debt

    • Generation X (age 38-52) had the highest median student loan debt at $27,000

    • 4% of Older Boomers (age 63 to 71) had student loan debts


  • 49% of buyers who had difficulty saving for a down payment reported that student loan debts delayed their ability to purchase a home.

    • 53% of Millennials and Gen Y stated student loan debt delayed their purchase

    • 25% of Generation X (age 38 to 52) stated student loan debt delayed their purchase


  • 58% of all homebuyers utilized conventional mortgage financing. This would be known as an agency (Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac) loan, and non-agency financing (also known as Jumbo loans)

  • 60% of 2017 Home Buyers said they did not have to make any financial sacrifice to purchase. Of those who did have to make a financial sacrifice to save for a purchase…

  • 26% of all buyers had student loan debts. Among all buyers who had student loans, the median debt was $25,000

    • 28% said they cut back on spending for non-essential or luxury items

    • 21% cut back on their entertainment spending to save money

    • 15% cut back on clothing and apparel purchases


  • Finally, 83% of 2017 home buyers said that buying a home was a good investment.


So there you have it. Almost universal belief that buying a home is a sound financial decision, but there are serious obstacles faced by many buyers due to the challenges they faced in saving for the down payment and closing costs due to the presence of student loans. 

Ironically, in 2017 Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced changes in the way they calculate monthly payments on student loan debt for buyers. I originally commented on this development last May in this blog.

If you would like me to send you a copy of that article, simply send me an email to me at : rhr11@icloud.com requesting “FNMA Student Debt Solution” and I will forward it to you.   


Robert H. Ruth
Senior Mortgage Banker
Direct: 401.789.4441
Mobile: 401.743.4364
Email: rhr11@icloud.com
NMLS ID: 513243
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