Is The Generation Gap Between Millennial Home Buyers, Baby Boomers, And Gen X Real?

What do Millennial home buyers and Baby Boomer home buyers have in common? More than you think despite the large age gap.

With the Boomers (ages 55 to 64) aging upwards, Millennials (ages 22-39) – also known as Generation Y – are replacing them in numbers. This younger generation is a product of the Great Recession – a serious economic upheaval in the 2000s – that shaped their values, including those on finances and home buying.

Not to be forgotten, Generation X (ages 40-54), is still in hot pursuit of homes. In fact, a 2019 NAR report entitled “Real Estate In A Digital Age” states that Generation X is the “typical home buyer” at “46-years old, married without children living at home”. According to the NAR report, Generation X along with older Millennials (ages 30-39), constitutes 50 percent of all home buyers.

So how do you profile these potential home buyers and learn what they’re interested in buying?

Baby Boomers Strongly Believe in Homeownership

Boomers are aging out of the workforce and downsizing their homes to focus on fun, travel, and enjoying time spent with kids and grandkids. The older segment (ages 65-73) of this generation once relied on long-term, stable jobs and large forever homes – typically in the suburbs.

Now these Boomers are of retirement age. Often living on fixed or less income than when younger, Boomers are downsizing their high-maintenance, elaborately decorated homes in favor of much less square footage and easier maintenance. However, as Baby Boomers downsize to easy-care condo living, they’re often competing with younger Millennials.

“For the most part, Baby Boomers still believe in owning property,” Broker/Owner Brandin Johnson of Incisive Realty and Owner of We Buy Houses Fast in Orlando believes. In fact, Boomers of any age make up 32 percent of all home buyers, according to the NAR digital age report. The difficult part is finding the right home within their budget. Baby Boomers, Johnson continues, “are having a hard time finding smaller properties, depending on their income.”

For the most part, Baby Boomers still believe in owning property [but] are having a hard time finding smaller properties

Help Boomers find smaller, one-level homes with the detailed features they’re used to on a reduced or fixed budget. Condos are popular, but look for ones in 55+ communities or farther away in suburbia to avoid competing for homes with the younger Millennials. This generation wants to stay active and social with walkable neighborhoods close to entertainment, healthcare, fitness centers, trails, and swimming pools.

Generation X Today’s Typical Home Buyer

Generation Xers are generally more stable with older or no children at home, depending on their age. Like the Boomers, they are looking to downsize to a certain extent. A home with enough bedrooms to accommodate visits from their kids and grandchildren is important.

A 2018 NAR analysis reports that: “Generation Xers surpassed younger Boomers this year and purchased the greatest share of multi-generational homes at 16 percent.” The report further says that this middle generation also purchased the largest share of single-family homes in 2018 at 88 percent and had the highest median household income at $111,100.

While they strongly value homeownership and tend to own their home long term, they don’t hold on to their home forever and prefer to consider the future resale value before purchasing. Moves tend to be due to small home size or job relocation and are heavily researched.

Detached single-family homes averaging 1,900 square feet with energy-efficient, functional – not wasted – spaces for entertaining and fitness are Generation X preferences. Seeing their parents difficulties aging in place in their overly large homes, this generation is more practical by wanting single-level homes. states that “49 percent of Gen X buyers want a single-level house; even among those that want a two-story house, 33 percent want a first-floor master suite or two master suites with at least one on the first level.”

While [Gen X’ers] strongly value homeownership and tend to own their home long term, they don’t hold on to their home forever and prefer to consider the future resale value before purchasing

Millennial Home Buyers Hesitant To Own

Millennials seek affordability, simplicity, convenience, and life experiences. Younger ones of this generation (ages 22-29) tend to travel and switch jobs, while older ones have settled down with families. In general, the younger Millennials are not as interested in home buying as are the older segment of this generation. However, there are some important factors that come into play.

Views of this generation are very much shaped by living through the Great Recession, especially their overall skepticism of owning a long-term forever home. Life for this generation is viewed differently than Generation X and Baby Boomers – generations that both saw lower home prices (even taking inflation into consideration) and overall healthier economies.

Instead, Millennials look at home buying as part home, part investment with some renting out their home to pay their mortgage while experiencing life on the road.

Home Choice

Millennials prefer smaller homes than their predecessors at the same age, perhaps out of necessity due to price point. Tiny homes are an inexpensive, mobile option. Townhomes and condos – typically more affordable than detached houses – are often sought. Finances drive this generation to less expensive condo living at similar prices as the older Boomers, leading to some purchase competition between Boomers and Millennials.

The move is out of the suburbs and into cities for a segment of Millennials, but Millennials with families tend to prefer the lower cost and bigger floor plans of suburban homes without seeking the ‘mansions’ of the Boomers.

You can draw in this generation by providing the energy efficiency and convenience they desire in a lower-cost suburban setting. Provide built-in technology that allows Millennials to live comfortably in smaller homes than the generations before them.


Unlike previous generations, an inability to get a home loan is often caused by large school loan debts. Interestingly, in their report on average student loan debt determined that the “increase in borrowing coincides with an increase in tuition” of about $6,000 from older to younger Millennials when adjusted for inflation at 2019 rates.”

Trends in Student Loan Debt report, published by the Journal of Financial Planning, shows that of those who received a bachelor’s degree in the last two decades, “slightly more than a quarter have graduated with excessive debt” (owing more than made in one year of work).

For those Millennials without excessive debt, another barrier to homeownership is their difficulty saving for a 20 percent down payment. According to a 2019 Smart Asset down payment affordability study, if you are starting at zero savings, it could take as long as 10 years to raise enough money for a down payment. Between college loan debt payoffs and years of down payment saving, it’s no wonder Millennials wait longer to buy larger homes.

Millennials consider their real estate transactions as investments [instead of a] traditional consumer standpoint as the Baby Boomers did.

Generational Home Buying: Long-term Versus Mini-Investors

From forever homes to long-term homes to homes as investments, home buying has changed through the generations. Broker Benjamin Ross of Mission Real Estate Group sums up the generational change: “In previous generations, such as Baby Boomers and in some cases Generation X, real estate investors were the rich and powerful – the upper class.

In today’s age, Millennials consider their real estate transactions as investments and view those transactions from more of an investor standpoint than from a traditional consumer standpoint as the Baby Boomers did. As generations come, perception of what is long-term shorten while more home buyers become quasi mini-investors.”