Why Do Home Buyers Move?

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When it comes to the top reasons that Americans decide to pack up and move, job and commute considerations fail to make the cut. Data from the 2017 American Housing Survey (AHS) show that over half of recent home buyers – 55% – move for a better home. This was followed by a desire to move to a better neighborhood (46%) and to form a household (39%). In contrast, smaller shares of home buyers report moving for a job (14%) and to reduce their commute (12%). For its February Special Study, NAHB used data from the 2017 AHS to create a profile of recent home buyers (those who bought a home in the two years preceding the 2017 AHS). Sponsored by HUD and conducted by the Census Bureau biennially in odd-numbered years, the AHS is the most comprehensive housing survey in the United States. NAHB analyzed the data to provide insight on why first-time buyers move compared to trade-up buyers (defined as those who previously owned a home). For example, first-time home buyers are more likely to move for a better home (65%) than trade-up buyers (49%). Unsurprisingly, first-time buyers are much more likely to move to in order to form a household (61%) than trade-up buyers (25%). About the same shares of first-time buyers and trade-up buyers – 49% and 45%, respectively – report moving for a better neighborhood. NAHB economist Carmel Ford provides more insight in this Eye on Housing blog post. 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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