When buying or selling a house, one of the first questions that come to mind is either “What do I want in a house?” or “What do buyers want in my house?” Though it can be hard to differentiate between wants and needs in real estate, the answer to either question may have a surprising link to generational real estate trends.
According to data on home buyer and seller generational trends released by the National Association of Realtors, Millennials (those born between 1982 and 2000) continue to comprise the largest contingent of homebuyers, holding 35 percent of the market. Although Millennials are the largest contingent of homebuyers, they spend less time saving for a down payment and have the largest level of educational debt than their home-buying counterparts. The next largest contingent, at 26 percent of the market, is made up of Generation X (those born between 1965 and 1981). These buyers have had a bit more time to pay down student debt, save for a down payment, or gain some equity in their current home — which can provide clues about home buying trends based on age.
Millennials are more likely to look for a bargain, with affordability trumping almost every other housing need, and it is one of the major reasons Millennials are flocking to the suburbs, as opposed to urban areas. When selling, that means appealing to the Millennial set that will be looking for walkability, transport links, and neutral spaces to put their stamp on. If buying, especially for the first time, Millennials are more likely to compromise on the size and age of a home before they compromise on price, which provides ample opportunity to build equity through a renovation before moving on to a larger home in the future.
Gen Xers, on the other hand, are more likely to move to obtain a larger home for their growing families. When selling, this means playing up livable space in a home and demonstrating how it can support a growing family. Items to focus on are the main living spaces such as the kitchen, living areas, and bathrooms. Proximity to good schools and transportation routes are also good qualities to play up. Gen Xers are also more likely to stay in their homes for a longer period than the Millennial set — meaning Xers are more likely to compromise on price to get the right neighborhood or location.
If you’re wondering where the Baby Boomers fit in, it may surprise you to know that the Millennials have recently surpassed Baby Boomers as America’s largest generation, and this demographic shift is reflected in their share of the real estate market. With many Boomers still in the workforce, the real estate trends for this group have been split in two: younger Boomers (born between 1956 and 1964) and older Boomers (born between 1946 and 1955). They have a market share of 16 percent and 15 percent of the market respectively. What makes this generation unique is that they are the ones most likely to move the furthest, obtaining a smaller home and relocating closer to family and friends, and they are willing to pay for the location they want.
The Bottom Line
Across all buying groups, environmentally friendly features ranked as incredibly important, and nearly all generational groups from 30 to 90 began their real estate search online — something potential home sellers should be aware of when preparing their home for sale. No matter who your target market is when selling your home, presenting a neutral space, playing up the local amenities, and including lots of pictures in an online listing will remain critical in a successful sale.