The First Home Survey

The first home is one of the biggest chapters in the lives of many, but what new homeowners go through is anything but straightforward. To learn more about all of the different aspects that make up the first home experience of the average American, we surveyed over 1,000 homeowners in early December 2021 and asked about the type of house they first purchased, how they initially learned about the home buying process, how their relationship was affected by moving in with a partner (if applicable), and more.

The Typical First Home

A graphic showing statistics related to the first home purchases of survey respondents

The detached, single-family house is the most popular starter home and was the initial purchase of 42.2% of our respondents. Townhouses and condos each got some representation too, however, with close to 30% of respondents originally buying one or the other.

Even though older generations tend to carry the reputation of being more hands-on in their work and side projects, our results actually showed the opposite to be true. More Gen Z and millennial buyers claimed that they bought their first house with the intention of making major renovations, while more of our Gen X and baby boomer respondents claimed that they bought something to keep as-is. 

If you’re still in that 18-24 age range, don’t put too much pressure on yourself: Over half of our respondents didn’t purchase their first home until they were at least 25. And there’s no need to rush into such a big decision, as 11.7% of our respondents’ first homes were smaller than they were hoping for, 11.6% were more poorly located than expected, and 19.7% didn’t come with all of the features the buyer desired. 

Funding the First Home

A graphic showing statistics related to how first-time homeowners financed their homes

If rules are meant to be broken, budgets are meant to be ignored…right? If you’re a member of Gen Z, you might agree with us on this one. 27.9% of our Gen Z respondents spent more than planned on their first home purchase, while only 16.7% of the second most over-budget generation, millennials, did the same. And these weren’t necessarily small steps out of line, either. Of the respondents that spent more than they originally intended to, 22.2% spent over $10,000 more than they originally intended to. 

So where is all of this money coming from? Well, a majority claim that they paid out of pocket, but there were also plenty of loans doled out, whether by a parent or by a bank. Acquiring funding isn’t the only hurdle in home buying, however, as 40.5% said they struggled with finding the house they wanted to buy in the first place, and almost 15% experienced delays in at least one part of the process. 

Even in today’s internet-dominated world, more of our respondents claim that they got the majority of their initial home buying information from their friends and family rather than from the web. But while the internet hasn’t surpassed the power of personal relationships, it has definitely surpassed the banks and mortgage brokers of old, as almost twice as many respondents said they used the web instead of a bank, and over twice as many respondents used the web instead of a mortgage broker.

Living With Your Partner

A graphic illustrating statistics related to the experiences first-time homeowners had living with their partners

Maybe it’s just the honeymoon phase, but it’s smooth sailing for a lot of our respondents that have experience living with a partner. While 72.5% agree that it’s good for both parties to have somewhere they can retreat to, 65% have a place, or places, like this in their house. 82.3% always sleep in the same bed, and 89.1% generally agree on home maintenance needs. Overall, 85.5% of our respondents are “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with living with their partners.

Nothing in life is perfect, though, and our respondents are most annoyed by things like their partner’s messiness, and spending habits and neediness are other issues for many. Compromises were also somewhat rare when couples were still in the house hunting phase, with only about 15-25% of respondents from any generation claiming they made at least one compromise with their partner regarding the house they bought together.

Closing Thoughts

While there are certainly some that buy their first house solo, a large majority of first-time homeowners are newlyweds that are looking to lock down the place where they’ll start their life together. And if there’s something that’s almost as important to a newlywed as the house, it’s the ring. Shane Co. has high-quality engagement rings that fit any budget, and even the option to design your own ring so you can get exactly what you want, whatever that may be.

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