The magic age is 35. That’s when a lot of people start getting the itch for a bigger or better home.
Called move-up buyers, these are homeowners ages 35 to 44 who in 2012 saw a spike in home purchases while other age groups either remained flat or declined.
Getty ImagesMove-up homes are typically bigger or in better neighborhoods than starter homes.
“They’re looking at the market and saying, ‘The house I bought 10 years ago is not my dream home. I have a bigger family and now I can sell,’ ” says John T. Altman, a real-estate broker in San Diego.
Real-estate experts credit a better economic climate and low interest rates for the increase in purchases by the move-up age group. About 36% of all buyers in late 2012 were 35 to 44, up from 30% at the start of 2009, according to real-estate brokerage Redfin.
Upgrading usually means larger homes with plenty of amenities that are located in good school districts, says Glenn Kelman, president and CEO of Redfin. Move-up buyers want features that make for convenient living, like bedrooms all on the same floor or durable finishes on faucets and counters, he says.
Recently, Ray Rodriguez moved from a modern townhouse in Miami to a two-story Old-Florida-style home in Coral Gables. Mr. Rodriguez, a contractor in South Florida, loves the glitz and glamour of Miami, but now that he’s in his 30s and has two small children, he wanted a place that was more “family oriented.” His new home is “very centrally located—less than 10 minutes from Coconut Grove and less than 10 minutes from downtown Miami. Plus it has some of the best schools for my kids,” he adds.
Homeowners in the move-up group are typically looking to stay in their home for 10 to 15 years, compared with the three to five years for starter homes. “These buyers are looking for homes with a ton of amenities. They want hot, hip areas, but with a family focus,” says Daniel de la Vega, broker/managing partner at One Sotheby’s International Realty in Miami.
Overall, home buyers in the 25- to 34-year-old age group still made up the largest proportion of home buyers—at 45%—at the end of 2012. But their pace of purchases dipped in the second half of 2012. Home buyers ages 65 and older held the smallest sliver of the market, at just over 1%. Buyers ages 55 to 64 are a bit ahead, with about 5% of the market.
The median age of buyers is 42 years old, down from 45 years old in 2011, according to the National Association of Realtors.
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