Younger, Older Buyers Show Similar Home Preferences

March 6, 2020

Millennials may have old souls when it comes to real estate, showing similar buying preferences as the silent generation—those 74 to 94 years old—according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ 2020 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends report. Both age groups are motivated to live near family and friends, with 53% of each citing that desire as a major factor influencing their decision in selecting a neighborhood.

“The silent generation—older Americans who are typically grandparents and great grandparents—for years have prioritized living near family and other loved ones,” says NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “But it was surprising to see younger millennials with homebuying preferences and ideals similar to older segments of the population.”

A deviation from past surveys, 33% of home sellers ages 74 to 94 say their chief reason for selling their home was to move closer to friends and family. In the past, this age group was more likely to relocate due to career changes or retirement. One other similarity between the two generations is that they prefer new homes. Both age groups said they were more likely to make a purchase due to the amenities a newly constructed home provides. The survey has shown the same trend in the past among older generations, but it’s a new trend among younger buyers, researchers note.

NAR 2020 Generational Trends Survey

© National Association of REALTORS®

Still, some differences emerged between the two generations. Younger buyers are more concerned about commute time when choosing a home to buy, with 74% of 22- to 29-year-olds saying “convenience to job” was a main motivator in selecting a neighborhood. For older buyers, however, “quality of neighborhood” was a bigger motivator than commutes.

Some buyers say they had to compromise on their wish list in order to find the right home. Across age groups, the price and condition of a home were the two biggest items for which they compromised. Buyers 40 and over were the most likely to report that they made no compromises in their house hunt.

NAR 2020 Generational Trends Survey

© National Association of REALTORS®

The most difficult part of the homebuying journey across age groups was finding the right property. But younger buyers in the 22-to-29 age group also were more likely to report difficulties understanding the homebuying process (39%) and saving for a down payment (30%). Buyers 55 and older report the most confidence about the homebuying process, with more than a quarter reporting facing no difficult steps in purchasing a home. “As technological advances are made, more potential buyers will want to consider the latest homebuying apps,” Yun says. “However, we see buyers of all ages prefer an experienced REALTOR® or broker to assist with this major, complex transaction.”

Indeed, all generations report the following benefits of using a real estate agent to buy a home:

  • Helped home buyer understand the process: 61% among all buyers, 89% among 22- to 29-year-olds
  • Pointed out unnoticed features/faults with property: 60% among all buyers, 65% among 22- to 29-year-olds
  • Negotiated better sales contract terms: 48% among all buyers, 58% among 22- to 29-year-olds
  • Provided a better list of service providers: 47% among all buyers, 50% among 65- to 73-year-olds
  • Improved buyer’s knowledge of search areas: 45% among all buyers, 55% among 22- to 29-year-olds
Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends,” National Association of REALTORS® (March 5, 2020)