Americans earning at least $75,000 are buying more houses than their parents at a comparable age, with each generation outpacing the home purchase trends of the previous generation, according to a new study commissioned by Coldwell Banker Real Estate Corp.

Sixty-six percent of survey respondents in the Silent Generation (aged 61 and up) have owned between two and five homes, according to the survey. Already, 66 percent of baby boomers (aged 42 to 60), have owned a similar two to five homes.

Younger generations surveyed are mimicking these home-buying habits. About half (48 percent) of generation X’ers (aged 32-41), and more than one third (36 percent) of echo boomers (aged 31 and younger), have owned between two and five homes. Fifty-eight (58) percent of respondents have owned more homes than their parents did when their parents were at a comparable age.

“These findings suggest that this trend will continue as the younger, upper-income generations age,” said Jim Gillespie, president and CEO, Coldwell Banker Real Estate Corp. “Baby boomers have already equaled the home-ownership pace of those 61 and older, and they remain in their prime home-buying years. The fact that generation X and echo boomers are indicating that they have owned multiple homes already shows that they understand the value of buying and owning real estate.”

However, these home buyers don’t appear to be buying homes for the purpose of expanding their financial portfolios, Gillespie said. “Instead, our survey respondents indicate that they move according to lifestyle needs.”

Only 5 percent of respondents view their current home strictly as part of their financial portfolio, compared with 67 percent of respondents who consider their house a “home” first, the chief executive added. “When asked if they could sell their current home and get more ‘home for their money’ without affecting their current lifestyle, 53 percent said they would not move or were not sure.”

When considering reasons for moving, 48 percent of survey respondents indicated they moved because of their career, 45 percent cited a better community lifestyle and 27 percent cited a new relationship or marriage. Of note, women are more apt to move for a relationship than men, at 53 percent as opposed to 37 percent, respectively.

Additional reasons for moving include the need to be closer to family (16 percent), a more affordable location (15 percent), birth or adoption/growing family (15 percent), more affordable housing (13 percent), warmer climate (13 percent), displeasure with the current home (12 percent) and divorce (11 percent). Eighty-three (83) percent of married respondents, or those living with a significant other, waited until solidifying their formal relationships to purchase their first home.

The recent hike in mortgage rates is not playing a significant role in the respondents’ moving process, with 67 percent of survey respondents indicating that the growing rates are not factors in their decision not to move.

The survey also found that a full 81 percent of respondents do not live in the same town in which they were raised, and 52 percent live more than 200 miles away from that town. However, more than half of the respondents (56 percent) still live in the same state in which they were raised.

When asked to define the areas in which they grew up in comparison to the areas to which they moved, two-thirds of respondents moved to a location either equal to or with a higher urban density (57 percent), moving from city to city, suburb to suburb or suburb to city.

In terms of the homes most recently purchased, the results suggest that the “do-it-yourself” trend of the past several years is beginning to cool down, at least among higher-income homeowners. A full 68 percent of respondents indicated that the last home they purchased was a brand-new house requiring no additional work, or an existing home needing very little renovation.

A majority of the respondents indicated that they paid for the down payments on their first homes with personal savings (59 percent), followed by financial assistance from parents (17 percent), then by taking advantage of a “no-money down” mortgage (16 percent). When it came time to purchase a second home, 64 percent of respondents used money from the sale of their previous home for the down payment, with 35 percent using their personal savings for that purpose.

The survey results imply that the respondents feel financially secure relative to the cost of housing. A stunning 81 percent of respondents do not consider themselves “house poor,” with 59 percent of those surveyed indicating that they pay 30 percent or less of their net income towards their monthly mortgages. “What this is telling us is that despite the volume of news stories suggesting that Americans continue to drive themselves deeper into debt, when it comes to real estate, upper-income homeowners are heeding advice and buying houses that enable them to live within their means,” Gillespie said.

However, while the survey’s respondents display financial savvy in terms of real estate, that fiscal sophistication appears to be more rooted in the present for the younger generations surveyed. Sixty percent of baby boomers said they would bequeath their home to their children or another relative. However, only 10 percent of those younger respondents (aged 41 or less) expecting the home said they are factoring those proceeds into their retirement planning.

While marriage or the establishment of a permanent relationship drives entry into home ownership, other life events play a role. The study revealed that respondents in the baby boomer and older age groups are 70 percent more likely to own a second home or vacation home than the younger generations.

Home buyers are also taking aging needs into consideration when they think about homes. Nearly one-third (28 percent) of respondents aged 42 and older said they prefer ranch (one story).

When considering late-life living arrangements that may include living alone, 48 percent of respondents aged 61 and older who indicated a preference said that they would rather remain in their current residence.

Thirty-four percent would prefer to move into a smaller residence or a condominium on their own.

The survey was conducted online within the United States between July 19-31, 2006, among 2,570 homeowners aged 25 and over with an annual household income of $75,000 or more.

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