How long does it take a home in the US to change hands?

by Liz Hughes

Homeowner tenure has flattened since its 2020 peak.

The typical homeowner has spent 13.2 years in their home, down from 2020’s peak of 13.5 years and up from 2012’s 10.1 years, according to a new report from Redfin

That flattening is due to the number of Americans who moved during the pandemic as low mortgage rates encouraged home purchases. Remote-work options fueled by the pandemic also led to a record number of people relocating over the past two years. 

Still, the report found people are staying in their homes longer due to the shortage of homes for sale, low monthly payments due to refinancing and taking advantage of historically low rates, while older homeowners are choosing to age in place. Redfin said rising rents are also a factor. 

Redfin chief economist Daryl Fairweather says homeowner tenure may have already peaked or that the 2021 decline could be a “blip before it climbs back up.” 

“Remote work is encouraging homeowners to sell their homes in expensive cities and move to more affordable areas, which could pull tenure down,” he said in a press release. “But on the flip side, rising mortgage rates may discourage people from selling and older Americans are staying put longer, which could push it back up.”

California homeowners are staying the longest with the typical Los Angeles homeowner spending 18 years in their home as of 2021, the longest of any metro in Redfin’s analysis. Both Honolulu and Oxnard, California, had median tenures of 17 years as the tenure of homeowners in those areas rose by about four years in the past decade. 

The median tenure was found to be larger than the national area in other areas of California due to the state’s property tax laws, the report found, and that included Anaheim, the Bay Area, Bakersfield, Fresno, Riverside and San Diego. The state’s Proposition 13 has an incentive for homeowners to stay put by limiting property tax increases. 

In the Midwest, St. Louis, Detroit and Chicago saw homeowner tenure rise by five years, the largest increase of all metros Redfin analyzed. 

In 15 metros, homeowner tenure declined, and many are popular relocation areas. Tenure declined by a year in Atlanta, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Tampa.

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