A new report shows that both younger millennials and members of the silent generation are prioritizing proximity to family and friends when they look for homes.

A newly released report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) has hit on a surprising finding: Younger millennial homebuyers are very similar in their preferences to people in their 70s, 80s, and 90s.

The report, out Thursday, specifically found that living near friends and family was the top priority for both younger millennials, or people now between the age of 22 and 29, as well as for members of the silent generation, which includes everyone between ages 74 and 94. Moreover, recent homebuyers in both of those age groups also cited the amenities that come with a newly built home as a reason for having made a purchase.

Both demographic groups additionally began their home search online.

Lawrence Yun

Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, characterized the parallels between the two age groups as surprising.

“The silent generation – older Americans who are typically grandparents and great-grandparents – for years have prioritized living near family and other loved ones,” Yun said in a statement. “But it was surprising to see younger millennials with homebuying preferences and ideals similar to older segments of the population.”

Despite the similarities, the report did find that 21 percent of younger millennials are unmarried couples, compared to just 3 percent for members of the silent generation — figures that mean the parallels between the generations only go so far.

Credit: NAR

Younger millennial buyers also were unique because 33 percent reported living with family or friends before buying a home. No other age group had anywhere close to such a high percentage; the next closest group was older millennials, between the ages of 30 and 39, 13 percent of whom lived with friends or family before buying.

Among other things, the report also found that 25 percent of younger millennials home purchases were in small towns, which NAR attributed to affordability issues in larger areas, and that millennials overall currently make up the largest share of the homebuying population.

Credit: NAR

Additionally, 12 percent of buyers were making a multi-generational home purchase. The most common reasons for such purchases were to take care of aging parents, cost savings, and to spend more time with aging parents, among other factors.

Credit: NAR

Though a majority of every age demographic began the home search process online, a quarter of the silent generation also actually contacted an agent first.

The percentage of buyers who contacted agents as their first step fell in each subsequent age group, dropping to 12 percent among younger millennials.

Credit: NAR

That finding does not, however, mean that agents are going out of style. NAR explained in a statement that “all generations of buyers found the services of a Realtor or agent were needed as the primary resource to help them buy and sell their home.”

Moreover, the report also found that half of millennial homebuyers found an agent via a referral from a friend or family member.

The report is based on a survey of 5,870 homebuyers that NAR conducted last summer. The survey included 125 questions and could be filled out either online or via a paper copy.

While the report overall reveals some curious trends — such as the similarities between old and younger Americans — the ultimate takeaway is that buying a home remains an important event for up and coming generations.

“For several years now, millennials have shown that homeownership is important to them,” NAR President Vince Malta said. “Their reasons vary: some are starting families, others are caring for aging parents, while others found that buying a home was decidedly cheaper than renting.”

Email Jim Dalrymple II

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