High earners and two-income couples
No big surprise here: Today's buyers have incomes that are well above average.
Fifty-four percent of homebuyers have a household income of $75,000 or more, according to a 2012 survey by the National Association of Realtors. That's almost one-and-a-half times the national median of $52,762, according to the most recent U.S. Census numbers.
"Income is one of the dividing lines, when you look at the data," Palim says.
Figures can differ from market to market. But in South Florida, an income of "$75,000 is a good criteria," says Carl Noriega, president of the Florida Association of Mortgage Professionals.
That usually means "two-income families," he says.
In fact, 73 percent of buyers are couples, according to the Realtors' survey. But if you think high incomes equal bigger down payments, you're using the wrong math. Buyers who use a mortgage (about 81 percent of the market) have a median down payment of 9 percent, according to the Realtors' survey.
And first-time buyers are averaging between 3.5 percent to 10 percent down, says Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist for Freddie Mac.