Younger buyers stayed closer to their previous residence, moving a median distance of 10 miles, whereas older buyers moved longer distances, with Older Boomers at 20 miles and the Silent Generation a median distance of 30 miles from their previous home.
When it comes to a home’s environmentally friendly features, younger buyers placed higher importance on commuting costs than older generations, who placed higher importance on energy efficiency, landscaping and community features.
“We’re seeing now that homeownership is still the fabric of the American Dream,” says Mark Woodroof, a real estate professional in Houston. “First-time buyers are focused on lifestyle and location first, and the house becomes a product of that. This is much different than the Baby Boomers who were looking for the biggest home they could buy. Today’s first-time buyers are more conservative with their budget, because they still want to have money in the bank; they don’t want to be house poor.”
He added, “They are interested in things like the community, walking scores and the local infrastructure, as well as efficiency both with green features but also in size—they aren’t buying more house than they need.”
The Millennials plan to stay in their home for 10 years, while the Baby Boom generation as a whole plans to stay for a median of 20 years.
Dennis Walsh, CEO of REbuild USA, comments on how younger buyers want to integrate technology into their home.
“Now there are apps you can have on your smartphone that allow you to control home temperature, or from a security standpoint, you can monitor camera from your phone,” Walsh says. “Another thing younger buyers are looking for is “flex” space that can be used for multiple purposes, providing them the ability to change their living space as their lifestyle needs evolve.”
He added, “Younger buyers who are used to, and enjoy, apartment-style living are now also surprisingly looking for one-floor homes, a trend that we were formerly seeing with older generations.”
All home buyers, regardless of age, typically began the home buying process by looking online for properties for sales and then contacting a real estate agent, although Millennials also looked online for information about the home buying process before contacting an agent.
Younger buyers were more likely to first learn about the home they purchased through the Internet; Older Boomers and the Silent Generation most often first learned about the home they purchased from their real estate agent.
Nearly nine out of 10 buyers financed their purchase, but those buying with all cash increased with age. Among the Silent Generation, 45 percent paid cash for their home. Similarly, for those who financed their purchase, the downpayment percentage increased with age, ranging from 5 percent for Millennial buyers to 23 percent for the Silent Generation.
Younger buyers who financed their home purchase most often relied on savings for their downpayment, whereas older buyers were more likely to use proceeds from the sale of a primary residence. Younger buyers also were more likely to receive a gift from a relative or friend, typically their parents, cited by 26 percent of Millennials and 16 percent of Generation X.
Younger buyers relied on real estate agents to help them understand the buying process, while older buyers most appreciated real estate agents pointing out unnoticed features or faults with the property.