NEW YORK – The vision underpinning the American dream – of fresh-faced young people buying a first home with a white-picket fence – hasn’t held up well.

It turns out that the median age of the U.S. home buyer is now 47, compared with 31 in 1981, Deutsche Bank chief economist Torsten Slok wrote in a note.

“This is driven by an aging population, affordability, higher student debt levels, and tighter mortgage lending standards for young people and individuals with lower credit scores,” Slok said. Those forces have contributed to lower levels of residential mobility, he added.

Slok flagged an eight-year gain in the median home-buyer age since the financial crisis. The median age hasn’t been below 40 since then, when it was 39.

Among publicly traded homebuilders, Toll Brothers Inc. has the “most exposure to the move-up luxury market – which tend to be older more well-heeled buyers,” Bloomberg Intelligence’s Drew Reading said.

Reading called the move-up segment a “comparatively weaker part of the market” as builders shift away from it. Demand drivers going forward are more important, he added. That will come from “the younger cohort.”

Toll Brothers shares have gained 21 percent so far this year versus a 56 percent rally for the S&P Supercomposite Homebuilding Index and a 24 percent rise for the S&P 500.

By Felice Maranz, Bloomberg News