When examining the homes Americans are purchasing, it is interesting to look through a generational lens. With differences in buying power, family situations and priorities, homebuyers from different generations may fall into patterns. Data from NAR’s 2022 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report, shows exactly where generations differ in their home-buying habits, and where they are more similar than one would think.
Gen X homebuyers, with growing buying power, purchased the most expensive homes at a median price of $320,000. Unsurprisingly, younger millennials purchased the least expensive homes at a median price of $250,000. With the highest percentage of single-female buyers, the silent generation purchased the smallest homes at a median of 1,800 square feet. Older baby boomers purchased the newest homes, while older millennials and Gen X buyers purchased the oldest homes.
In 2021, buyers of new homes made up a 15% share of all buyers, while those purchasing previously owned homes made up 85%. Silent-generation buyers were most likely to buy new; 20% of them purchased new construction, followed by younger baby boomers at 18%. Younger millennials were most likely to purchase previously owned homes at 92%.
The survey asked buyers to identify their reason for buying a new or existing home. The most popular answer among recent buyers of new homes is that they were looking to avoid renovations and problems with plumbing or electricity. Among those who purchased previously owned homes, getting a better value was the top reason. Buyers aged 57 and older were more likely to purchase a new home for the ability to choose and customize design features.
The most common type of home purchase among all generations was the detached single-family home, which made up 82 percent of all homes purchased. The silent generation purchased apartments/condos at a higher rate than other age groups.
Senior housing accounted for 14% of purchases by buyers over the age of 50; that number was 19% for older baby boomers and 28 percent for the silent generation.
A median of only 15 miles separated recent buyers’ purchases from their previous homes. The median distance moved was highest among older baby boomers at 35 miles, while the lowest was among younger millennials at 10 miles.
The typical recently purchased home was 1,900 square feet, had three bedrooms and two bathrooms, and was built in 1993. The size of homes for older millennials was typically larger at 2,400 square feet, compared to the silent generation at a median of 1,800 feet.
Heating and cooling costs and windows/doors/siding were the most important environmental features for recent homebuyers, with 30% calling these two features very important. Younger millennials considered commuting costs most important at 32%.
Overall, buyers expected to live in their homes for a median of 12 years, down from 15 years last year. For younger millennials and the silent generation, the expected length of time was only 10 years compared to 20 years for younger baby boomers.