Millennials and the Silent Generation in the U.S. share some surprising homebuying characteristics, according to the 2020 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends report, the latest study from the National Association of Realtors®.
The study examined each generation to determine the differences among those recently buying and selling homes in the U.S.
As expected, younger and older Millennials accounted for the largest share of homebuyers in the past year (38%), which they have been for the last seven years. Similarly, they also tend to dominate other homebuying categories, such as first-time homebuyers (88% of younger Millennials and 52% of older Millennials).
Similarities Between Millennial & Silent Generation Buyers
Although there is a significant age gap between younger Millennials (ages 22 to 29) and the Silent Generation (ages 74 to 94), both groups appear to be like-minded when it comes to homebuying preferences.
For instance, proximity to friends and family is a high priority among both of these groups. Specifically, 53% of homebuyers aged 22 to 29 and 74 to 94 said this was a major factor that would influence where they decided to live. In fact, 33% of home sellers aged 74 to 94 said moving closer to friends and family was the primary reason they decided to sell their previous home. Historically, reasons such as career changes or retirement were the main reasons for relocation.
Another similarity between younger Millennials and the Silent Generation is in those categorized as “recent buyers.” People in those two age groups who recently purchased a newly built home were most likely to have done so because of the amenities that brand-new homes provide. While this is common among older generations, it marks a new trend for younger homebuyers. Furthermore, the Silent Generation and Millennials were also more likely than other age groups to get advice from a friend or relative about the homebuying process.
Notably, all generational groups reported starting their home search by viewing properties online. However, Silent Generation buyers were nearly as likely to contact a real estate agent or broker as they were to look online, while half of all homebuyers between the ages of 22 and 39 got a referral for a real estate agent from a friend or family member.
Differences Between Millennial & Silent Generation Buyers
When it comes to unmarried couples buying homes, younger Millennials have the highest share at 21%. Conversely, only 3% of homebuyers in the Silent Generation and 3% of older Baby Boomers were unmarried when purchasing their home. As far as married buyers, older Millennials have the highest share at 67%.
Among all generational groups, 61% of recent buyers were married couples, 17% were single women, 9% were single men and 9% were unmarried couples.
Living arrangements is another area in which younger homebuyers stood out from other age groups. In particular, 33% of those aged 22 to 29 said they lived with parents, friends or relatives before buying a home, with 13% paying rent and 20% not paying rent. Homebuyers aged 30 to 39 made up the next largest share of those who lived with parents, relatives or friends before buying, at 13%. Only 5% of buyers aged 65 to 73 and 6% of buyers aged 74 to 94 reported living with someone else before purchasing.
Other Factors in Millennial Home Purchases
Of the homes purchased by buyers aged 22 to 29, 25% were located in a small town. This indicates that affordability is a major factor in Millennial homebuying decisions, as metro areas tend to be more expensive and some are even facing declining job growth. What’s more, lack of available housing is also often a major factor in an area’s affordability – 64% of homebuyers aged 22 to 29 said affordability influenced their decision to purchase.
Among older Millennials (aged 30 to 39), 46% of homebuyers noted school district quality as an important factor in their purchase decision, and 36% said proximity to schools was also important. Other high-priority factors among Millennials include proximity to work and commuting expenses.
Millennials and the Silent Generation may seem a long way apart in age and culture, but they share interesting preferences when it comes to homebuying, such as living near family and friends, getting homebuying advice from those they know and purchasing newer homes. These shared preferences appear to outshine any minor demographic differences between the two generational groups.