On the House: Results of latest housing surveys

A recent survey found 14 percent of purchases in 2012-13 were made by multi-generational buyers.
A recent survey found 14 percent of purchases in 2012-13 were made by multi-generational buyers. (ANDREW HARRER / Bloomberg News)
Posted: April 06, 2014

My dislike for surveys is matched only by my distaste for pigeonholing segments of the population based on the results of those surveys.

The latter can have unforeseen consequences, as I discovered more than a decade ago, when I began writing about baby boomers and over-55 housing preferences.

During a long weekend of seminars in Scottsdale, Ariz., I listened to speaker after speaker pigeonhole baby boomers as wealthy, healthy, and wise, all eager to spend their money on amenity-rich over-55 housing the next day.

I am, of course, a baby boomer. I know a lot of other baby boomers. No one being described that weekend sounded like anyone I knew, or like me, either.

Last year, I wrote about the over-55 housing market and learned that all those speakers had been describing perhaps 10 percent of baby boomers, not 100 percent.

I don't think they were stretching the truth as much as they were hoping for the best, and their best was none too accurate.

This long-winded prelude brings us to today's exercise, which is reporting the latest dope on buying trends from the National Association of Realtors and the National Association of Home Builders.

First, the Realtors, who report that a "generational-trends study shows confidence in the market, [and] some challenges."

The Realtors mailed a 122-question survey to 148,011 sellers and buyers who bought their homes between July 2012 and June 2013.

In the 8,767 usable responses, "eight out of 10 recent buyers considered their home purchase a good financial investment, ranging from 87 percent for buyers age 33 and younger, to 74 percent for buyers 68 and older."

Twelve percent of all recent buyers had delayed their home purchase due to outstanding debt.

Fifteen percent of buyers ages 34 to 48 had delayed buying, with 35 percent citing student debt and 46 percent citing credit-card debt.

Finally, 14 percent of all home purchases were by multigenerational households - adult siblings, adult children, parents and/or grandparents.

The biggest reasons for a multigenerational purchase were adult children moving home and cost savings, followed by health or caretaking of aging parents, and spending more time with aging parents.

The home builders' study is from its unending series,  "What Home Buyers Really Want," in this case, ethnic preferences.

I have no details of this survey process, but having written a number of stories over the years on the topic, I presume it was done very carefully.

Minority buyers are typically younger than white non-Hispanic buyers. The median African American buyer is 39, the Hispanic buyer is 37, and the Asian buyer is about 36, while the median white buyer is 43, the home builders' survey said.

Fifty percent or more of buyers in all racial or ethnic groups are married couples: 80 percent of white buyers, 50 percent of African Americans, 74 percent of Hispanics, and 79 percent of Asians.

Asian buyers have the highest median household income of all four groups, $72,797, compared with $67,747 for whites, $50,221 for Hispanics, and $43,774 for African Americans.

Asians also expect to pay the most for a house: $283,469, compared with $205,775 among whites, $181,444 among Hispanics, and $176,397 among African Americans, the builders said.

I'm certain the data would stand up under scrutiny, but these results, I've found, have a very brief shelf life.

That is, of course, why there is never any shortage of latest surveys.


aheavens@phillynews.com

215-854-2472 @alheavens

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