Generational Real Estate Trends & What They Mean for Agents

Each generation has its own needs and expectations in the real estate market. Here’s what you need to know about real estate trends by generation so that you can best serve Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z. 

Baby Boomers Are Looking to Age in Place

Traditionally, seniors would downsize to lower-maintenance condos or community living facilities upon retirement. But we’re not seeing that from retiring Baby Boomers. Instead, Boomers are looking to age in their family homes. Freddie Mac points out that seniors born after 1931 are staying in their homes longer, resulting in higher homeownership rates for this generation, compared to previous generations. 

For real estate agents, this means you’re not as likely to find sellers who want to relocate upon retirement today as you were 10 or 20 years ago. But you can still be ready to serve the Baby Boomer generation when they are ready to move. It just might be closer to the age of 80 than 65. 

Working with downsizing Baby Boomers over the coming decades will require an empathetic agent. These sellers will be downsizing, not because they want to, but because they can no longer manage the house on their own. Many agents gloss over this fact because it is sad. But the agents who can show the sellers that they understand will provide better service to this niche.  

Gen X Is Quietly Winning the Housing Market

Gen X may be getting ignored (again!) as the media compares Baby Boomer real estate trends to Millennial real estate trends. But they are in the best position of all generations when it comes to affording homes in today’s market. 

Born between 1965 and 1980, Gen Xers were generally well-established in their careers prior to the housing market collapse and concurrent recession. This put Gen X in the position to earn higher incomes than other generations, which makes housing comparatively more affordable for them. 

Business Insider reports that the average Gen Xer can afford a median-price-point home in 70 of the 100 most populous counties in the US. For comparison, Millennials can only afford a median-price-point home in 34 counties. And Baby Boomers can only afford to buy in 11 of the most populous counties.

For real estate agents, Gen X may be a good demographic for finding homeowners ready to upgrade to a bigger, better home. Representing them in the sale of their current home and the purchase of their new home, you could earn two commission checks on helping one client! 

Millennials Are Struggling with Low Inventory and High Debt

Born between 1981 and 1996, Millennials have struggled to time the economy. Many of them graduated during the Great Recession while unemployment was at its highest level since the Great Depression. This led to a slow start, with many Millennials forced to live at home for far longer than they would have liked. 

And Millennials couldn’t really afford a slow start. With an average debt of $87,448 (not counting a home loan!), Millennials need to earn. Student loans account for nearly $40,000, auto loans near $20,000, and credit cards/personal debt make up the rest.  

Just as Millennials were making headway and starting to purchase homes in greater numbers, the pandemic hit. With an economic recession immediately followed by barely-controlled inflation, and a highly competitive, low-inventory housing market, Millennials who hadn’t gotten on the property ladder by this point saw that possibility slipping away. 

Millennials want to own homes. They just need to know how to make it happen. Agents can help by educating Millennials on home loan options and down payment assistance programs.

Gen Z Wants to Act Fast

The oldest Gen Zers were born in the late 90s, which means they’re approaching their mid-20s. Gen Zers who are old enough to enter the housing market (even if only as renters) aren’t naive. They have watched their Millennial predecessors struggle with housing. And they know that housing prices are outpacing wage growth

So adult Gen Zers with the means to buy are looking to do so quickly. They know housing is just getting less affordable. And paying high prices for a home is still a better prospect than paying ever-increasing rents. Gen Z has entered the housing market in earnest in mid-sized, comparatively affordable cities (like Oklahoma City, Indianapolis, and Phoenix). 

The real estate agents who help Gen Z get on the property ladder could be rewarded with life-long clients. They’ll need a bit of hand-holding as they navigate their first purchase. But if you nurture them, they’ll come back to you when they’re ready to upgrade. Then when they want to buy an investment property. Then when they want to help their kids become homeowners.  

Is a Career in Real Estate Right for You?

Bing a real estate agent offers flexibility, high-income potential, and the satisfaction of helping local residents. And getting your real estate license is easier than you might think! Simply complete an online real estate course, pass your state exam, and apply for your license with your state board. You’re never more than a few steps away from a new career in real estate!   

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