How to refine your message for different generations of homebuyers

It seems that Millennials and Gen X’ers can’t wait to get their hands on the latest gadgetry. Their older counterparts, on the other hand, prefer something more tangible. This is not to suggest that people under 40 are antisocial and Baby Boomers are luddites. Eventually, it all comes down to building relationships with all generations of homebuyers.

Internet searches have become common among all age groups, although the yard sign is a traditional tool that attracts most potential buyers and compels them to stop for a closer look. It’s often a picture they had seen recently – while holding it in their hands – that made them think, “Hmm.”

When someone curls up with something printed, he or she expects a direct benefit, whether it is pure entertainment, straight information, informative entertainment or entertaining information. Relevance, of course, is relative. If you know who your clients are, you know what they need and how best to connect with them.

A recently released study by the National Association of Realtors®, “Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends,” offers a detailed glimpse into what motivates homebuyers of a certain age.


Millennials – also known as Gen Y or Gen Next – were born between 1980 and 1995. Feeling secure enough to own their own homes, the 33-and-under crowd comprises the largest share of first-time homebuyers (at 76 percent).

With a median income of $73,600, their decisions are affected by such factors as commute time and expense, local amenities and housing affordability. Millennials tend to buy older and previously owned houses, and are willing to make certain sacrifices for the sake of price and overall value.

This age group uses the internet and mobile devices more frequently than others (followed by Gen X’ers) to research the process of home buying. They often find online the home they eventually buy. When they settle upon a real estate agent, the referrals usually come from friends, neighbors and relatives. What matters most to them is an agent who is honest and trustworthy.

Generation X

Gen X’ers – those born between 1965 and 1979 – also consider homeownership important, though they are more often motivated to buy a house because of job relocation or a growing family that might simply need more space.

While the median income for this age group is $98,200, they probably are still paying off student loans, credit card debt and car notes; so they are willing to make personal sacrifices to get the home they want. They still want the good schools, parks and local activities, as well as a garden and a garage.

They do much of their research online, but count on a real estate agent who will help them find the best possible deal to meet their needs as a homebuyer.

Baby Boomers

There are younger Boomers (born 1955-64) and older Boomers (born 1946-54). Together they comprise 30 percent of homebuyers, with median incomes of $95,400 and $81,100, respectively.

They generally plan to remain in their home for 20 years, and are less willing to compromise than are Millennials and Gen X’ers. Primary concerns include proximity to friends, family, shopping and health facilities.

Older Boomers are looking toward retirement and want a smaller home. Many – already familiar with the thrill of home ownership but weary of mowing lawns, replacing windows, cleaning pools and shoveling sidewalks – find a condo or townhouse more appealing.

Young Boomers might need a larger house, as are more likely than any other age group to have a multi-generational household and share their home with their parents and children over 18.

Boomers may begin their home search online, but they ultimately count on a real estate agent with a solid reputation and extensive knowledge of their neighborhood.

People of all ages like to deal with someone who is professional, direct and helpful. Days are long and attention spans are short; time and money are synonymous to a lot of people. And, while a multi-faceted approach to marketing and lead generation is the most efficient way to reach a diverse population, there is something reassuring about a direct marketing piece in the mailbox for all generations of homebuyers. It says, “This is for you.”