BAM Key Details: 

  • The National Association of Realtors® has released its 2024 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report, showing millennials in the lead, surpassing baby boomers and accounting for 38% of all home buyers. 

The National Association of Realtors just released the 2024 edition of its annual Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report. And some of the findings in particular bring some much-needed perspective on buyer behavior in a post-Sitzer/Burnett real estate industry. 

For one, 89% of buyers across all generations still choose to work with a real estate agent. 

If the NAR settlement is approved, its terms, including the requirement of a signed buyer representation agreement, present an opportunity for agents choosing to specialize in buyers.

It also highlights the importance of approaching the agent-client relationship as a lifetime support partner—not just someone who makes the home buying process go more smoothly. 

Read on for the highlights of the report. 

2024 Home buyer trends

Millennials have overtaken baby boomers to become the largest group of home buyers. 

According to NAR’s 2024 Generational Trends Report, younger millennials (ages 25 to 33) and older millennials (ages 34 to 43) combined account for 38% of all U.S. home buyers—up from 28% the year before—making them the largest generational group of U.S. home buyers. 

NAR_Share-of-buyers-and-sellers-by-generation-bar-graph

Source: NAR

Older millennials also have the highest household income of any generation at $127,000, followed by Gen Xers with a median household income of $126,933 in 2023. 

Meanwhile, baby boomers—both younger (ages 59 to 68) and older (ages 69 to 77)—account for a combined 31% of all U.S. home buyers, down from last year’s 39%. 

Gen X, with a median age of 51, is in third place at 24%. 

The generational tug-of-war between millennials and baby boomers continued this year, with millennials rebounding to capture the largest share of home buyers. This notable rise is attributed to both younger millennials stepping into homeownership for the first time and older millennials transitioning to larger homes that suit their evolving needs.

Dr. Jessica Lautz

NAR deputy chief economist and vice president of research

Among home buyers in 2024, the main reasons given for recently purchasing a home varied by generation. For buyers under the age of 59, the primary reason is still the desire to own a place of their own. 

Among buyers aged 59 and up, the number one reason for their recent home purchase was their desire to live closer to family and friends, followed by a desire for a smaller home. 

One of the highlights of the NAR report was the increase in first-time buyers across many generations. Thirty-two percent of all home buyers made their first home purchase, up from 26% last year. 

Younger millennials account for the largest generational group of first-time buyers, with their share growing year-over-year from 70% to 75%. Next are older millennials at 44%, with Gen X (ages 44-58) coming in third at 24%. 

Generation Z (ages 18-24) so far account for only 3% of all buyers. What’s notable is that 31% of those buyers are single women—the largest share of any generational group of home buyers. 

Gen Z buyers are entering the housing market, and their demographics are emerging distinctly from other age groups. More than half are single buyers, outpacing all age groups of single men and single women, and they are also most likely to identify as LGBTQ+.

Dr. Jessica Lautz

NAR deputy chief economist and vice president of research

Despite affordability challenges over the past few years, the desire for homeownership is still strong across all generations. 

More than eight in ten buyers (82%) consider a home purchase a good financial investment. Younger millennials are even more likely to see it that way, with 86% of this group indicating their agreement. 

Across all buyers, 44% viewing a homeownership as “better than stocks.”

What buyers want from their agents

Nearly nine out of ten home buyers (89%) worked with a real estate agent when purchasing a home, as did 91% of younger millennials, in particular, and 90% of older millennials. 

Buyers of all generations sought help from a real estate agent to find the right home for them to purchase, with 50% indicating this was their number one reason for choosing to work with one. 

Buyers also want an agent who can help with negotiating the terms of the sale—including price negotiations. Younger millennials in the survey were more likely to want help with the paperwork. 

And both younger millennials (82%) and older millennials (69%) found it most beneficial when agents helped them understand the home buying process. 

Based on survey results, here is what buyers (all ages) want most from real estate agents:

  • Help find the right home to purchase: 50%
  • Help buyer negotiate the terms of sale: 11%
  • Help with paperwork: 7%
  • Help determining how much home buyer can afford: 4%
  • Help find and arrange financing: 3%
  • Help teach buyer more about neighborhood or area (restaurants, parks, public transportation): 3%
  • Other: 3%

And across all generations, the following benefits provided by a real estate agent during the home buying process ranked the highest: 

  • Helped buyer understand the process (61%)
  • Pointed out unnoticed features/faults with a property (58%)
  • Negotiated better sales contract terms (46%)
  • Provided a better list of service providers (e.g., home inspector) (46%)
  • Negotiated a better price (33%)
  • Shortened the buyer’s home search (29%)
  • Provided a better list of mortgage lenders (23%)
  • Expanded the buyer’s search area (21%)
  • Narrowed the buyer’s search area (16%)
  • Other (2%)

Referrals are still the number one way most buyers find their real estate agents. 

Across all buyers, referrals ranked as the number one way buyers find their real estate agents (43%), followed by— 

  • Used the same agent previously to buy or sell a home (13%)
  • Inquired about specific property viewed online (7%)
  • Website (without a specific reference) (7%)
  • Referred by another real estate agent/broker (5%)
  • Saw contact information on for sale/open house sign (5%)
  • Attended an open house and met agent (5%)
  • Personal contact by agent (telephone, email, etc.) (3%)
  • Referred by employer or relocation company (2%)
  • Walked into or visited office and agent was on duty (1%)
  • Saw the agent’s social media page without connection (1%)
  • Mobile app (on phone or tablet) (1%)
  • Crowdsourcing through social media (1%)
  • Direct mail (newsletter, flyer, postcard, etc.) (<1%)
  • Newspaper, Yellow Pages, or home book ad (<1%)
  • Advertising specialty (calendar, fridge magnet, etc.) (<1%)
  • Other (6%)

Younger millennial buyers (53%) and older millennials (45%) were more likely than older generations to choose their agent based on referrals by friends, relatives, and neighbors—mainly because older buyers were more likely to work with an agent they’ve already worked with to buy or sell a home. 

When it comes to the skills and characteristics buyers look for in an agent, honesty and trustworthiness ranked at the top, followed by— 

  • Agent’s experience (21%)
  • Agent’s reputation (15%)
  • Agent is a friend or family member (12%)
  • Agent’s knowledge of the neighborhood (9%)
  • Agent has caring personality (is a good listener, etc.) (8%)
  • Agent is timely with responses (6%)
  • Agent seems 100% accessible / easy to get a hold of (4%)
  • Agent’s association with a particular brokerage/firm (1%)
  • Agent is active in local community / volunteerism (1%)
  • Agent’s professional designations (<1%)
  • Other (4%)

Among older generations, an agent’s reputation was slightly more important than for younger generations. 

Regarding an agent’s specific skills and qualities, honesty and integrity ranked at the top with 98% of buyers considering it “very important,” followed by— 

  • Knowledge of purchase price (94%)
  • Responsiveness (94%)
  • Knowledge of real estate market (92%)
  • Communication skills (90%)
  • Negotiation skills (83%)
  • People skills (80%)
  • Knowledge of local area (77%)
  • Skills with technology (47%)

Buyers also indicated their preferences when it comes to agent communications, highlighting the ways in which agents can deliver value—keeping the buyer in the loop, responding promptly to buyer questions and concerns, and providing valuable information to guide the buyer throughout the process and beyond. 

Personal phone calls to inform the buyer of any updates and educate them along the way ranked at the top of the list, followed by— 

  • “Sends me postings as soon as a property is listed/the price changes/under contract” (70%)
  • “Sends me property info and communicates via text message” (71%)
  • “Sends me emails about my specific needs” (48%)
  • “Can send market reports on recent listings and sales” (50%)
  • “Has a website” (29%)
  • “Has a mobile site to show properties” (27%)
  • “Active in local community/volunteerism” (14%)
  • “Is active on social media” (14%)
  • “Sends me an email newsletter” (7%)
  • “Advertises in newspapers” (3%)
  • “Has a blog” (1%)

During their home search, 71% of buyers interviewed only one real estate agent—which makes sense, considering the majority of buyers find their agent through a referral from someone who worked with that agent & was satisfied with the service they provided (and continue to provide).

The universal value of owning a home transcends every generation, serving as a cornerstone for both personal prosperity and community development. In navigating the complexities of the market, buyers and sellers continue to rely on agents who are Realtors® for their expertise and guidance, underscoring the invaluable service they provide in bringing dreams of homeownership to life.

Kevin Sears

NAR President & , Broker-partner of Sears Real Estate in Springfield, Massachusetts

Read the full report for more information, including methodology.