The older first-time home buyer.

New York Times contributor Joanne Kaufman reports that, per National Association of Realtors data, only 7 percent of newbie [first-time home buyers] were in the 55-to-74 age group. Less than 1 percent of first-timers were 75 and above.

So, now that the trend is picking up a bit, Kaufman wanted to scout around for insight into motivations and psychological needs among the older "debutante" buyers. She found that they fit several categories:

Some, ... have grown weary of landlord caprices. Some come into an inheritance and decide to put it into real estate. Still others come to the conclusion that their rent-regulated apartment, while a boon in many ways, is also a trap, the real estate version of golden handcuffs. Then there are those who could have bought earlier, perhaps should have bought earlier and who suddenly bump up against that most ugly truth: They’re not getting any younger.

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