Boomers Throw a Wrench Into Housing Market

With mortgage rates soaring and fewer homes for sale, Baby Boomers are dominating the housing market like a real-life game of Monopoly. The shifts in who is buying homes have been trending in that direction for quite some time, but it was confirmed this month by data released from the National Association of Realtors. As the Washington Post puts it, “grandparents have been edging out younger buyers who are struggling to get into the market for the first time.” The stats show that first-time buyers make up only 32% of home sales, down from 38% since 1981. Today first-time buyers are older—more likely to be in their mid-30s on average, as opposed to their mid-20s in the 1980s.

On top of that, repeat buyers, or people who have already purchased a home or two in the past, have a median age of 58 (it was 36 in 1981). These repeat buyers tend to have more money on hand because they sold past homes, with the typical seller in 2023 being age 60. (The youngest Boomers are 59.) “We are still talking about an incredibly difficult market for first-time buyers to enter, even if there’s slightly less competition,” Jessica Lautz of NAR tells the Post. “If there’s a multi-offer situation, an all-cash buyer or someone who has a lot of equity is likely to win. And that person is going to be older.” Along with older buyers being more likely to have generated wealth from recently selling a home, they also probably have great credit in their favor, and can make more attractive offers, throwing in cash sales or large down payments.

“They have the appearance of being more stable,” realtor Jennifer Dodd says, “and a sense of them being more able to complete this purchase.” CBS News reports that Boomers are buying more homes than originally expected—creating unexpected demand in an already competitive market. Reasons why older adults want to move include divorce and a spouse’s death, when they go on to form new households. In these situations, they are often in competition with first-time buyers, who are looking for similar types of homes: those with fewer bedrooms and minimal upkeep. NAR data also showed that 70% of recent homebuyers did not have children under the age of 18 (in 1985, that number was 42%). (Read more real estate news).

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