Millennial Home Buying Trends: National vs Local Preferences

Millennial Home Buying Trends: National vs Local Preferences

  • Karine Sewart
  • 03/1/24

In 2022, a significant milestone was reached as over 50% of Millennials became homeowners, a shift attributed to favorable conditions like low interest rates and increased remote work opportunities. However, the housing landscape has turned challenging. Escalating interest rates and an enduring housing shortage have rendered home prices and monthly payments inaccessible for many first-time buyers. Recent data from the National Association of Realtors indicates that the qualifying income for an average starter home soared to over $96,000 in Q2 2023, a stark contrast to the $49,000 needed in 2020.

How Millennials Navigate the Evolving Real Estate Landscape

To comprehend the home-buying decisions of Millennials, it's crucial to grasp their journey through the tumultuous waves of the housing market since the early 2000s. Older Millennials navigated the challenges of the housing bubble, no-doc zero-down loans, overbuilding, the foreclosure crisis, and the Great Recession.

Moving into the 2010s, younger Millennials grew up amid the perception that 3% mortgage rates and housing shortages were the norm, while their older counterparts recognized a potentially unique opportunity to buy or refinance with nearly free money after adjusting for inflation.

The pandemic altered preferences for living and working, and efforts to prevent a recession fueled inflation. Resulting in excess demand, shortages in materials and labor, and geopolitical conflicts, bringing us to the current landscape.

For many Millennials yet to own homes, the escalating rents pose a hurdle in saving for a down payment. Simultaneously, the looming threat of mortgage rates hitting 8%, coupled with a substantial lag in housing supply, leaves them uncertain about the prospect of homeownership.

Statistics on Millennials in the Real Estate Market

Here's a glimpse into the significance of Millennials in the real estate arena based on recent statistics:


  • As of 2022, Millennials constituted 26% of the U.S. adult population, as per government data.
  • In the same year, a substantial 54% of purchase mortgage applications originated from Millennials, according to CoreLogic.
  • Between July 2021 and June 2022, younger Millennials stood out as the age group most inclined to kickstart their home-buying journey through online research, accounting for a significant portion, according to NAR.
  • During the same period, NAR found that 70% of younger Millennials and 46% of their older counterparts were first-time home buyers, indicating a prevalent trend in the market.
  • Contrasting the homeownership rates, in 2022, 62% of 40-year-olds from the Millennial generation owned homes. By comparison, when Baby Boomers were the same age, 69% were homeowners, as reported by Redfin.
  • According to NAR, both older and younger Millennials expressed more challenges in saving for a down payment and understanding the home-buying process compared to their older counterparts in the housing market.

The Proportion of Home Buyers Represented by Millennials

Between July 2021 and June 2022, there was a noteworthy shift in the composition of home buyers, marking the first time in eight years that Millennials did not constitute the majority. According to NAR, Millennials accounted for only 28% of all home buyers during this period.

Contrastingly, Baby Boomers emerged as the predominant group, making up 39% of home buyers. Factors contributing to this shift may include a 12.6% surge in the national sales price and a 2.7 percentage point increase in interest rates during the same timeframe.

The distinction between the two generations becomes evident in their roles as buyers and sellers. Boomers, less likely to be first-time buyers and more likely to have substantial equity, found it financially easier to make a move. They constituted 52% of home sellers, while Millennials comprised a modest 18%.

In NAR's classification, Millennials encompass those born from 1980 to 1998 (ages 24 to 42 at the survey time), while Boomers range from those born between 1946 and 1964.

However, Redfin's analysis offers a different perspective. From 2018 to 2022, both younger and older Millennials collectively accounted for more than 50% of primary residences sold in the U.S. Redfin's classification defines Millennials as individuals aged 25 to 44, slightly shifting the demographic toward older buyers and expanding the dataset by one year.

Meanwhile, Zillow's findings positioned Millennials at 37% of home buyers in 2022, presenting a figure that falls between the estimates provided by NAR and Redfin.

Guidance for Millennials Entering the Real Estate Market

For Millennials aspiring to step into homeownership, consider these valuable tips:

Trust Your Agent:

Lean on your real estate agent for insights, especially in understanding the buying process, identifying property features, and negotiating contract terms.

Explore Financial Support:

Look into first-time homebuyer loans and state programs if upfront financial assistance is unavailable. About 15% of Millennials financed their entire home purchase through mortgages with such support.

Plan for the Long Run:

Despite initial plans, consider the long-term suitability of your home to minimize transaction costs associated with buying and selling.

Use Your Education:

Tap into your problem-solving skills and critical thinking, combining them with technology to navigate the wealth of online resources. Seek personalized advice from multiple agents and lenders for a well-informed home-buying journey.

Embarking on your homeownership journey as a Millennial? 

Remember, each step is uniquely yours. So, trust your instincts, rely on the expertise around you, and soon, you'll be unlocking the door to a place you'll proudly call home. Happy house hunting!

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