Reasons Why Home Buyers Move


Data from the 2017 American Housing Survey (AHS) show that over half of recent home buyers – 55 percent – move ‘for a better home’ (Graph 1). Home buyers also move for ‘a better neighborhood’ (46 percent) and ‘to form a household’ (39 percent). In contrast, smaller shares of home buyers report moving ‘for a job’ (14 percent) and ‘to reduce their commute’ (12 percent).

For its February Special Study, NAHB used data from the 2017 American Housing Survey (AHS) to create a profile of recent home buyers (those who bought a home in the two years preceding the 2017 AHS). The AHS is a nationally representative survey of residential structures in the US and of the households that occupy them (sponsored by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and conducted by the Census Bureau biennially in odd-numbered years).

The data also provide insight on why first-time buyers move compared to trade-up buyers (defined as those who previously owned a home). First-time home buyers are more likely to move ‘for a better home’ (65 percent) than trade-up buyers (49 percent) (Graph 1). Unsurprisingly, first-time home buyers are also more likely to move to ‘form a household’ (61 percent) than trade-up buyers (25 percent). About the same shares of first-time home buyers and trade-up buyers move for ‘a better neighborhood’: 49 percent and 45 percent, respectively.

Please visit the special study page to view the full report, Characteristics of Recent Home Buyers. There, you can also find history tables of the data going back to 2001.

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