Baby boomers have long enjoyed advantages over millennials in the home market. Now, they’re outnumbering them as well.

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Older buyers have muscled their way back as a dominant force in the housing market, according to a recently published survey of buyers and sellers.

Baby boomers rose from 29 percent of buyers to 39 percent last year, unseating millennials for the greatest share of buyers for the first time since 2014, the National Association of Realtors reported Tuesday.

Baby boomers have long enjoyed advantages over younger generations in negotiations, according to NAR’s Jessica Lautz. Now, they’re outnumbering them as well.

“The majority of them are repeat buyers who have housing equity to propel them into their dream home — be it a place to enjoy retirement or a home near friends and family,” Lautz, the trade group’s deputy chief economist and vice president of research, said in the statement. “They are living healthier and longer and making housing trades later in life.”

Millennials fell from 43 percent of buyers to 28 percent in 2022, a big fall from the heights they’ve attained since taking the top spot in the survey eight years before.

The slide of millennials in these generational rankings coincided with a dip in the share of first-time buyers who made their first purchase in the year leading up to July 2022, the report says.

At 26 percent of all buyers, the share of first-timers fell to its lowest levels since the trade group started tracking this data. The previous year, first-timers made up 34 percent of all buyers.

As millennials took a step back, their younger counterparts started to gain a firmer foothold in the home market.

Buyers between the ages of 18 and 23 made up 4 percent of all buyers in the year leading up to July 2022, up from 2 percent the previous year. Approximately 30 percent of buyers from Generation Z said they were moving directly from a family member’s home into one of their own.

Meanwhile, both baby boomers and millennials made up a greater share of homebuyers than Generation X, which clocked at 24 percent last year.

On the seller’s side, baby boomers built on their existing lead in homeseller share, growing from 42 percent of all sellers to 52 percent last year.

Half of recent buyers last year reported moving 50 miles or further, the greatest median distance in the survey’s history. That was up from an exceptionally low 15 miles that most buyers reported moving in the 12 months leading up to July 2021. 

These insights were part of the 2023 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends report, which was based on a survey mailed in July to 153,000 people who had bought a home in the previous year. The trade group received 4,854 responses to the survey.

Email Daniel Houston

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