By Mary Prenon
A just-released study by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) indicates baby boomers have now surpassed millennials when it comes to home-buying in the United States.
In its 2023 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report, the NAR indicates the boomers, aged 58–76, comprised 39 percent of all homebuyers at the end of 2022—a 10-point lead over 2021 figures. In comparison, millennials, ranging from ages 24–42, experienced a drop in home-buying activity from 43 percent in 2021 to just 28 percent last year.
Dr. Jessica Lautz, NAR deputy chief economist and vice president of research, told The Epoch Times that baby boomers may have an easier time purchasing homes now because they don’t necessarily have to rely on savings for a down payment. “These homeowners have a lot of housing equity, and they made substantial gains over the last two years as home prices continue to rise,” she said. “Some of them are now able to pay cash for a new home after selling their house.”
While Generation X, ages 43–57, had the highest median household income of any generation, at $114,00, they comprised just 24 percent of homebuyers in 2022. “If you think about it, every ‘boomer will be over the age of 60 within the next three years, and many of them are thinking about retirement,” Dr. Lautz explained. “They have the upper hand in the home-buying market, and they are living healthier and longer so they’re able to make housing trades later in life.”
Dr. Lautz also indicated there are strong migration trends among many boomers to the Sunbelt, whether they’re looking for a permanent move or a second home for the winter months. 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.
Florida has always been a popular destination for boomers seeking a retirement home or second residence for their “snowbird” months. Brian Tresidder, sales manager with William Raveis Real Estate in Sarasota, Siesta Key, and Lakewood Ranch, told The Epoch Times that the majority of buyers he sees are baby boomers from out of state. “Sarasota is actually one of Florida’s top retirement towns as well as vacation spots, and most of our buyers are from the Northeast,” he said. “Years ago, it was the Midwest, but I think a lot of people there may have been priced out of the area.”
Like the rest of the nation, inventory is still tight in the City of Sarasota and Sarasota County. Tresidder said the current median sales price of a single-family home in the region is $495,000, up from $449,000 just last year. “It’s still a seller’s market here,” he added. His clients comprise a combination of those seeking retirement and vacation homes. “For those who haven’t retired yet, they’re purchasing homes that they can rent out, and in a few years, they plan to use it as their permanent retirement home.” About 50 percent of his buyers are offering cash.
The area remains very popular for a number of reasons. “Siesta Key has been ranked as one of the top beaches in the country, and Sarasota is a small city that offers a lot to do with an active art scene and restaurants,” said Tresidder. “Another big draw is that it’s just about an hour away from Tampa, which offers lots of tourist attractions.”
Maybe the biggest perk for Florida living is the fact that there is no state income tax. “Since there’s so much tourism there, the state makes up the revenue from taxes on hotels and short-term rentals,” Tresidder acknowledged.
Arizona is also high on the list for home-buying boomers. Eric Gibbs, president of the Arizona Association of Realtors, told The Epoch Times they’re attracting people from all over the nation. “We’re seeing people from the Northeast, Washington, Oregon, and California who are looking for a great quality of life but a lower cost of living,” he said. “There’s also a large amount of construction for 55-plus communities of single-family homes, condos, and RV parks. People want the warm climate, amenities, and access to a lot of outdoor activities.”
Businesses have also been expanding into Arizona, and new condo developments are sprouting up throughout the area. “I’ve lived in Tucson for many years and have watched it go from a sleepy little town to large, spread-out community,” added Gibbs.
Popular relocation spots within the state include Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tucson, and Prescott. “Prescott is starting to experience a lot of growth and is even attracting people from downtown Phoenix who want to get away from the congestion of city life,” he said.
Gibbs said the newcomers are a mixture of people seeking second homes and retirees who have decided to make the Grand Canyon State their permanent residence. Some settle on condo developments with amenities like pools and tennis courts, while others opt for single family homes in newer developments.
In the latest Redfin report, the current median sales price of a single-family home in Arizona is $407,500. In Tucson, the median is $309,000, in Phoenix, $400,000, and in Prescott, $499,900. In Sedona, a vacation destination, the median sales price skyrockets to $923,750. “Sedona has always been something on its own,” said Gibbs. “It’s a beautiful place, and the tourism there is phenomenal.”
According to the NAR report, 26 percent of all buyers were first-time buyers, the lowest since the NAR started to track data, and a decrease from 34 percent in 2021. More than 70 percent of younger millennials and 46 percent of older millennials were first-time buyers. By comparison, only 21 percent of Generation X and 9 percent of younger boomers were first-time purchasers.
Generation Z, aged 18–23, now makes up 4 percent of homebuyers, a slight increase from 2 percent in 2021. Almost 30 percent of Gen Z moved directly from a family member’s home into homeownership. “As the youngest generation of homebuyers and sellers, it’s encouraging to see Gen Z entering the market,” Dr. Lautz said. “Their desire for homeownership is strong, and many are relying on family support systems to help make their first real estate purchase.”
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.
The most common type of home purchase continues to be the single-family detached home, with about 1,800 square feet of space, three bedrooms, and two bathrooms. Factors influencing buyers’ choices include quality of neighborhoods, convenience to shopping, walkability, and convenience to public transportation.
The report indicated that, overall, buyers are relocating at much farther distances—a median of 50 miles as compared to just 15 miles last year. Younger boomers moved the farthest, at 90 miles, followed by older boomers at 60 miles and millennials at just 15 miles. Buyers also expect to live in their homes for 15 years, a slight increase from 12 years in 2021.