ORLANDO, Fla., Nov. 5, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- An increasingly diverse pool of future homebuyers is poised to transform the real estate industry in coming years, and there are resources available for Realtors® to stay attuned to what those buyers will want today and in the future. That's according to speakers at a buyer preferences forum organized by the REALTOR® University Richard J. Rosenthal Center for Real Estate Studies session here at the 2016 REALTORS® Conference & Expo.
NAR's Jessica Lautz, managing director of survey research and communications, discussed the demographic characteristics, home preferences and livability needs of current and future buyers. She was joined by Rodney Harrell, director of livability thought leadership at AARP, who addressed attendees about the components that make for truly livable neighborhoods for households of all ages.
Lautz kicked off the session identifying the changing demographics in the U.S. well-positioned to shake the real estate industry in the next several years. Those include millennials recently overtaking baby boomers as the largest generation, single men and women making up the same share of the population as married couples, and the country edging closer to a minority-majority population within the next couple of decades.
"Future buyers will increasingly be a mix of minorities, multi-generational households and same-sex couples," said Lautz.
Highlighting some of the key findings from NAR's just-released 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, Lautz said this year's survey revealed the welcoming return of both first-time buyers and single female buyers. In the years since the Great Recession, their ability to buy has been hampered by many financial hurdles.
"Repaying student debt, rising rents, flat wages and affordability pressures have been obstacles for young adults attempting to buy their first home," added Lautz. "However, their fortunes are starting to turn around and both groups are expected to make up a growing share of sales in coming years."
Harrell's insightful commentary centered on AARP's neighborhood-based metric called the Livability Index. The index scores neighborhoods and communities across the U.S. for the services and amenities that can impact members' lives. These categories include housing affordability, transportation, the environment and health.
According to Harrell, housing is a central component of livability and makes up a core part of the index for individuals of all ages. He cited data that shows most adults want to stay in their homes as they age, and explained that consumer preferences shift over time and change from person to person. For example, a growing number of older adults are outliving their driving years. Once they're off the road, they may all of a sudden feel lonely being in an isolated cul-de-sac. That's where access to other forms of transportation and options for community engagement can really play a role.
"A livable community is safe and secure, has affordable and appropriate housing and a mix of transportation options," said Harrell. "Realtors® should use the index to really help their clients analyze and identify what's important to them now and in the future as their needs evolve."
On the topic of homeownership across different generations, Lautz said that nearly all individuals regardless of age have a desire to own a home of their own, but affordability remains a challenge. In recent years, the household income of first-time and repeat buyers has gradually risen. Furthermore, the lack of affordable newly built homes means that there is an abundance of buyers in the existing-home market, which is contributing to faster price growth.
According to Lautz, this tough environment for buyers and sellers further demonstrates the importance of real estate businesses being based on relationships and face-to-face interactions. With minimal supply at affordable prices, she explained that it's no surprise that agent-assisted sales are at an all-time high. A Realtor®, now more than ever, plays a vital role in helping buyers and sellers succeed.
"For instance, there's really a lack of knowledge among prospective buyers about what's needed to qualify for a mortgage," Lautz said. "Realtors® can really add value to their clients by being familiar with the many down payment assistance programs available. Be their guided hand and help them reach their goal of buying a home."
The National Association of Realtors®, "The Voice for Real Estate," is America's largest trade association, representing 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.
Information about NAR is available at www.realtor.org. This and other news releases are posted in the "News, Blogs and Videos" tab on the website.
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SOURCE National Association of Realtors