Who's Buying Homes in the U.S.?

Breaking down the home buying market by generation

Older and younger Millennials have been the top group of buyers since 2014, but their dominance n the U.S. home market dropped in 2022 (43% 2021 – 28% 2022), impacted by rising mortgage interest rates, credit tightening, inflation, and retraction of student loan forgiveness plans.

In this time of high interest rates and low inventory, cash-flush Boomers have emerged as the market leaders.

Baby Boomers now represent 39% of American home buyers, according to an NAR study, an increase from 29% in 2022, overtaking Millennials.

Home equity, long credit histories, nest eggs and experience in the housing market are all Boomer benefits. Dr. Jessica Lautz, NAR Deputy Chief Economist & VP of Research says; “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. They are living healthier and longer and making housing trades later in life.”

The 2023 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends report  examines the similarities and differences of recent home buyers and sellers across generations. , found that the combined share of younger boomer (58 to 67 years old) and older boomer buyers (68 to 76 years old) rose to 39% in 2022, up from 29% the year prior. Younger millennials (24 to 32 years old) and older millennials (33 to 42 years old) have been the top group of buyers since 2014, but saw their combined share fall from 43% in 2021 to 28% last year.


Generation X

According to Realty News Report, Generation X made up 24% of total buyers in 2022. They had the highest median household income of any generation ($114,300), followed by older millennials ($102,900). Overall, 79% of baby boomers own their homes, the highest share of any generation, followed by Gen X  at 71%, then Millennials at 52%.



Millennials are the largest generation in the USA, and they value homeownership. In fact, two-thirds say it’s a central part of the American dream. But as Bankrate’s 2023 Financial Security Index shows, Millennials are better savers than other groups and more aware of the danger of lack of emergency and retirement funds. The Great Recession of 2007-2009, the longest economic downturn in the U.S. since World War II, left a lasting impression on them. Millennials, as a group, are not inclined to ‘throw caution to the wind.’ While home prices remain near record levels due to pent-up demand and low inventory, mortgage rates have risen substantially. High inflation, hefty student loan debt, and tightened credit availability combined with soaring rent prices have put the brakes on home buying plans for many Millennials who didn’t purchase pre-2022.

Blocks to Millennial Homeownership in 2023

Even those who can qualify for a mortgage with today’s interest rates may not have the funds required for down payment and closing costs, and still have the reserves they–or their mortgage underwriters–deem necessary.

Those in a position to manage it all may not be able to stomach the high payments with only the prediction–not promise–of reduced interest rates in 2024. For a refinance to make sense, Mortgage experts say borrowers will want to achieve an interest rate reduction of at least 0.75% and calculate their break-even point.

First Time DC homebuyers

Generation Z

This generation is still on the young side for homeownership, but the group made up 4% of U.S. home buyers in 2022. Of those, 30% moved directly from a family member’s home into homeownership. In DC, this could be largely attributable to inherited wealth, gifted funds, “College Condos” and the District’s first-time homeowner programs. Whatever the reasons, owning vs renting makes sense in a city with sky-high rental prices, and starting on the property ladder in your 20’s is a great way to build a strong financial future. In fact, Americans rate homeownership the top investment.

Of course, it’s important to choose carefully. Often, first homes are condos or co-ops and fall into lower pricing tiers. Buyers must be cautious about these types of investments in order to earn enough equity for future resale closing costs and to realize a profit to invest in their next property.


Other Survey Topics

Eighty-six percent of all buyers purchased their homes through a real estate agent. This number was highest among younger boomers (90%) and Generation X (88%). Buyers from all generations agreed about the top reasons for using an agent: they wanted help finding the right home to purchase (49%), negotiating the terms of sale (13%) and negotiating the price (11%). Younger (14%) and older (12%) millennials were most likely to want their agent to help with paperwork. Seventy-six percent of buyers said that they would use their agent again or recommend their agent to others, a number that was consistent across all generations.

“Owning a home is more than just a financial investment. It’s a symbol of stability, independence and community that helps people build their lives and achieve their dreams,” said NAR President Kenny Parcell, a Realtor® from Spanish Fork, Utah, and broker-owner of Equity Real Estate Utah. “Whether you’re a first-time home buyer or an experienced investor, Realtors® have the expertise and knowledge needed to provide valuable advice and help you make informed decisions about your purchase.”