The share of baby boomers has surpassed millennials and now makes up the largest generation of homebuyers, according to the latest study from the National Association of Realtors® (NAR).
The 2023 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends report, which examines the similarities and differences of recent home buyers and sellers across generations1, found that the combined share of younger boomer (58 to 67 years old) and older boomer buyers (68 to 76 years old) rose to 39 percent in 2022, up from 29 percent the year prior. Younger millennials (24 to 32 years old) and older millennials (33 to 42 years old) have been the top group of buyers since 2014, but they saw their combined share fall from 43 percent in 2021 to 28 percent last year.
“Baby boomers have the upper hand in the homebuying market,” said Dr. Jessica Lautz, deputy chief economist and vice president of research for NAR. “The majority of them are repeat buyers who have housing equity to propel them into their dream home – be it a place to enjoy retirement or a home near friends and family. They are living healthier and longer and making housing trades later in life.”
Twenty-six percent of all buyers were first-time buyers, the lowest since NAR began tracking the data and a decrease from 34 percent last year. Seventy percent of younger millennials and 46 percent of older millennials were first-time buyers. Behind these groups, only 21 percent of Generation X (43 to 57 years old) and 9 percent of younger boomers were first-time purchasers.
Generation Z – ages 18 to 23 – now makes up 4 percent of homebuyers, a slight increase from 2 percent in 2021. Nearly one in three Gen Z buyers – 30 percent – moved directly from a family member’s home into homeownership. Finding a location convenient to friends and family was most important to this cohort of buyers.
Generation X made up 24 percent of total buyers. They had the highest median household income of any generation ($114,300), followed by older millennials ($102,900).
In addition to leading the way in home buying, baby boomers remained the largest home seller generation, jumping from 42 percent in 2021 to 52 percent in 2022. Among all generations, sellers typically remained in their home for 10 years before selling, up from nine years last year. On average, younger millennials stayed in their homes for four years, while older boomers sold their homes after 16 years.
All generations agreed that the most common reason to sell was to be closer to friends and family. Older generations were also more likely to sell due to retirement, while younger generations cited the desire for a larger home and job relocation as top reasons to sell their home.
On average, people are moving farther distances. Overall, buyers moved a median of 50 miles when relocating, the highest ever recorded and up significantly from 15 miles last year. Younger generations moved shorter distances, with younger and older millennials each typically moving 15 miles away.
Overall, buyers expected to live in their homes for 15 years, up from 12 years in 2021. For younger millennials, the expected duration was only 10 years, compared to 20 years for younger and older boomers. Surprisingly, Generation Z expected to remain in their newly purchased home for 19 years.
NAR mailed a 129-question survey in July 2022 using a random sample weighted to be representative of sales on a geographic basis to 153,045 recent homebuyers. Buyers had to have purchased a primary residence home between July 2021 and June 2022. A total of 4,854 responses were received from primary residence buyers. After accounting for undeliverable questionnaires, the survey had an adjusted response rate of 3.2 percent.
1 Survey generational breakdowns: Generation Z: (ages 18-23); younger Generation Y/millennials (ages 24-32); older Generation Y/millennials (ages 33-42); Generation X (ages 43-57); younger boomers (ages 58-67); older boomers (ages 68-76); and the Silent Generation (ages 77-97).