KCBS_740 SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — Real estate experts are blown away by new figures just released from Zillow that show who is buying homes.

Nearly one half of home sales over the last year went to first time buyers – most of them couples in their 30’s.  Maybe concern about college loan debt forcing a much longer delay in buying a first home was overblown.

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“Student debt means that households are educated, and they earn more,” Ralph McLaughlin, Chief Economist for Trulia told KCBS.

McLaughlin says that a college degree plays a bigger role than it used to. 62-percent of last year’s home buyers have at least a 4-year degree.

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“In the long run, their earnings are going to be a lot more, than households without college degrees, and we think that will be a big boon for them to buy a home eventually,” McLaughlin said.

Another surprise recently showed up in some Trulia research – not all retirees are chomping’ at the bit to down-size.

“Grandparents want to have their children, and especially their grandchildren visit, and that would also push boomers to buy bigger homes if they can accommodate the family,” McLaughlin said.

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That leaves older Americans split nearly 50-50 as to whether they want a big home or a smaller one.