BAM Key Details:

  • The NAR Generational Trends Report for 2023 reveals what consumers of all generational groups look for in an agent when they’re ready to buy or sell. 
  • The trends in the report also highlight what buyers and sellers of different generations value in their previous experiences with agents. 

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) released its latest Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report. Since 2013, this annual report has provided valuable insights into the differences and similarities between buyers and sellers of different generations, using data from NAR’s annual Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers

The insights we’re focusing on here include what home buyers and sellers of each generational group look for and value in real estate agents. 

Knowing what consumers in each group look for can be tremendously helpful when you’re about to make a listing presentation or discuss options with a potential client.

Here’s what you need to know. 

Consumer trends by age group for 2023

Before we get right into what each generation looks for in an agent, let’s get clear on what specific age groups we’re looking at and look at a few trends with each group. 

NAR’s report included charts breaking down buyers and sellers into specific generational categories. 

NAR-Age-of-home-buyers-chart
NAR-Age-of-home-sellers-2023-chart

Source: NAR

The NAR report divides both Baby Boomers into two separate subgroups with different demographic profiles and buyer/seller behavior: Younger Boomers and Older Boomers. It does the same for Millennials, for the same reasons. 

Here are a few of the biggest takeaways on generational trends for 2022:

  1. Boomers are now the largest group of home buyers, with Younger and Older Boomers together representing 39% of buyers, up from 29% in 2021. 
  2. Millennials are no longer the largest group of buyers after their share dropped from 43% in 2021 to 28% in 2022. 
  3. Boomers also remain the largest group of sellers at 52% in 2022, up from 42% in 2021. 
  4. Gen X, at 24% of buyers, has the highest median household income, and is the most racially and ethnically diverse of all the age groups. 
  5. Younger Millennials are the most educated—with 80% holding at least an associate’s degree—followed by Older Millennials. 
  6. Gen Z, rising to 4% of buyers, bought homes with the lowest median household income of $50,400; they also bought the smallest homes (under 1,500 square feet). 
  7. Almost a third (30%) of Gen Z homebuyers moved directly from a relative’s home to homeownership. 

Baby boomers have the upper hand in the homebuying market. 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.

Dr. Jessica Lautz

NAR Deputy Chief Economist and Vice President of Research

Across generations, the most common reason for homeowners to sell was to live closer to friends and family. Baby Boomers and Silent Generation buyers reported selling to move closer to family and friends or to downsize. For older generations, retirement was also a big factor. 

Millennials, on the other hand, were more likely to move because their home was too small, because their neighborhood had gone downhill, or to live closer to their place of employment. 

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. 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.

Kenny Parcell

NAR President

What buyers want from agents

Across the board, buyers overall ranked the following as the top five reasons for enlisting the help of an agent:  

  • Help find the right home to purchase (49%)
  • Help buyer negotiate the terms of sale (13%)
  • Help with the price negotiations (11%)
  • Help with paperwork (10%)
  • Help find and arrange financing (6%)

Millennials—both Younger (14%) and Older (12%)—were most likely to want their agent’s help with the necessary paperwork. And 76% of buyers across all generations reported they would use their agents again or recommend their agent to other buyers. 

Skilled and trustworthy agents are still the number one information source in the average buyer’s home search, followed by mobile or tablet search devices. 

The survey for NAR’s Generational Trends Report asked questions to assess the attitudes and priorities of buyers from different age groups to get a sense of what they want from real estate agents, how they’ve chosen them, and what qualities and skills they value most. 

#1—What do buyers want most from their real estate agents? 

  • 15% of buyers aged 43-57 wanted agents to help them find and arrange financing, compared to 2% of buyers aged 33-42 and 77-97, and 6% overall. 
  • 58% of buyers aged 68-76 wanted agents to help them find the right home to purchase, compared to 41% of buyers aged 43-57 and 49% overall. 
  • 14% of buyers aged 24-32 wanted agents to help them with the paperwork, compared to 6% of buyers aged 68-76 and 10% overall. 

#2—What benefits did agents provide to buyers during the home purchase process? 

  • 81% of buyers aged 24-32 say their agent helped them understand the process, compared to 44% of buyers aged 43-57 and 68-76 and 53% overall. 
  • 63% of buyers aged 24-32 say their agent pointed out unnoticed features/faults with the property, compared to 40% of buyers aged 43-57 and 52% overall.
  • 50% of buyers aged 24-32 say their agent helped them negotiate better sales contract terms, compared to 29% of buyers aged 68-76 and 37% overall. 
  • 27% of buyers aged say their agent provided a better list of mortgage lenders, compared to 12% of buyers aged 58-67 and 18% overall. 
  • 38% of buyers aged 21-34 say their agent helped them negotiate a better price, compared to 24% of buyers aged 68-76 and 30% overall.

#3—How many agents did buyers contact before choosing one?

  • 25% of buyers aged 24-32 interviewed two real estate agents before choosing one, compared to 16% of buyers aged 43-76 and 17% overall. 
  • 67% of all buyers interviewed one agent, compared to 73% of buyers aged 77-97, 64% of buyers aged 58-67 and 65% of buyers aged 24-42. 
  • Only 3% of buyers aged 24-32 interviewed 4+ agents, compared to 8% of buyers aged 33-42 and 58-67, and 6% overall. 

#4—What are the most important factors to consider when choosing an agent?

  • Buyers aged 24-32 ranked honesty and trustworthiness at #1, reputation at #2, and experience at #3
  • Buyers aged 43-57 ranked “caring personality/good listener” at #1, honesty and trustworthiness at #2, and agent’s experience at #3 (reputation ranked at #4).
  • Buyers aged 77-97 ranked reputation at #1, agent experience at #2, and “agent is a friend or family member” at #3 (honesty & trustworthiness ranked at #4)
NAR-Most-important-factors-when-choosing-an-agent-2023-chart

Source: NAR

#5—What agent skills and qualities did buyers consider “very important”?

  • 97% of all buyers consider honesty and integrity as very important in an agent, compared to 48% who consider “skills with technology” as very important. 
  • 91% of buyers aged 77-97 consider “knowledge of local area” as very important, compared to 71% of buyers aged 24-32. 
  • Four of the six age groups ranked “knowledge of purchase process” as more important than “responsiveness,” while buyers aged 43-67 (Gen X to Younger Boomer) ranked responsiveness as more important. 
NAR-Agent-skills-and-qualities-considered-very-important-2023-chart

Source: NAR

#6—Importance of agent communications

  • 80% of buyers aged 24-32 say it’s important for agents to send property info and communications via text message, compared to only 54% of buyers aged 77-97.
  • 77% of buyers aged 24-32 say it’s important for agents to send postings as soon as a property is listed, the price changes, or it goes under contract, compared to only 57% of buyers aged 43-57 and 65-66% of buyers aged 58 and up. 
  • Only 2% of buyers aged 24-32 or 43-57 say it’s important for agents to advertise in newspapers, compared to 11% of buyers aged 77-97 and 4% overall. 

What sellers want from an agent

In 2022, the majority of sellers in the U.S. turned to real estate professionals for help with the following: 

  • Pricing their homes competitively (23%)
  • Helping them market their homes to potential buyers (23%)
  • Selling their homes within a specific time frame (13%)
  • Helping them find a buyer for their home (13%)
  • Finding ways to fix up their homes to sell them for more (11%)

Here are some of the top takeaways from the survey results: 

#1—What methods did sellers use to find their real estate agent?

  • 42% of sellers aged 33-42 found their agent through a referral by a friend, neighbor, or relative, compared to 30% of sellers aged 68-76 and 36% overall. 
  • 13% of sellers aged 68-76 found their agent via direct mail (newsletter, postcard, flyer, etc.), compared to less than 1% for sellers aged 24-67 and 5% overall. 

#2—How many agents did sellers contact before choosing one? 

  • 90% of sellers aged 24-42 contacted only one agent, compared to 72% of sellers age 68-76 and 80% overall. 
  • 16% of sellers aged 68-76 contacted three agents before selecting one, compared to 2% of sellers aged 33-42, 3% of sellers aged 24-32 and 58-67 and 7% overall. 

#3—What did sellers most want from real estate agents?

  • 30% of sellers aged 68-76 and 26% of sellers age 58-67 want real estate agents to help them market their home to prospective buyers, compared to 14% of sellers aged 24-32, 17% of sellers aged 77-97, and 23% overall. 
  • 18% of sellers aged 24-32 want agents to help them sell their home within a specific time frame, compared to 9% of sellers aged 68-76 and 13% overall. 
  • 17% of sellers aged 77-97 want agents to help them find ways to fix up their home to sell it for more, compared to 6% of sellers aged 68-76 and 11% overall.
NAR-What-sellers-most-want-from-RE-agents-2023-chart

Source: NAR

#4—What was the most important factor for sellers in choosing an agent to sell their home?

  • 40% of sellers aged 33-42 and 58-67 say an agent’s reputation is the most important factor, compared to 26% of sellers aged 24-32, 29% of sellers aged 68-76, and 36% overall. 
  • 33% of sellers aged 24-32 say honesty and trustworthiness are the most important factors in choosing a listing agent, compared to 14% of sellers aged 68-76 and 18% overall. 
  • 22% of sellers aged 33-42 say whether an agent is a friend or family member is the most important factor, compared to 11% of sellers aged 77-97, 12% of sellers aged 68-76, and 15% overall. 
  • 24% of sellers aged 68-76 say an agent’s knowledge of the neighborhood is the most important factor, compared to 3% of sellers aged 24-32, 7% of sellers aged 33-42, and 14% overall.
  • 15% of sellers aged 24-32 say an agent’s commission is the most important factor, compared to 1% of sellers aged 68-76 and 4% overall. 
NAR-Most-important-factor-in-choosing-a-RE-agent-2023-chart

Source: NAR

General trends for 2022

Aside from consumer answers to questions regarding real estate agents, the NAR report provided a wealth of information on general trends among buyers and sellers in 2022. 

Here are a few highlights:

  1. Years before moving have gone up—Home buyers are staying in their homes longer, with an average duration of 15 years, up from 12 years in 2021. 
  2. People are moving further away—especially older generations. Younger age groups typically moved shorter distances with an average of 15 miles for both Younger and Older Millennials, compared to 90 miles for Younger Boomers, 60 miles for Older Boomers, and 50 miles for the Silent Generation
  3. 86% of buyers worked with a real estate agent in 2022—That number was highest for Younger Boomers (90%) and Gen X (88%). 
  4. 88% said they view home purchases as a good financial investment—with 77% of Younger Millennials and 77% of Older Millennials seeing real estate as better than or about as good an investment as stocks. 
  5. 26% of all home buyers in 2022 were first-time buyers—down from 34% in 2021 and the lowest share since NAR first began tracking the data. 
  6. 78% of home buyers relied on financing for their home purchase—a percentage that declines as the age of the buyer increases. 
  7. Younger buyers still depend on savings for their down payment, while older home buyers use money from the sale of their previous home. 
  8. 22% of Younger Millennials made their down payment at least partially with loans or monetary gifts received from relatives or friends.
  9. Debt delayed home purchases the longest for Older Millennial and Gen X buyers, at a median of 5 years. 
  10. Student loan debt and high rental costs were the primary delays in the homebuying process, as one impacts the debt-to-income ratio and both make saving more difficult.
  11. The most common expenses buyers cut to save for a home purchase were luxury/nonessential items and entertainment. 

For more details on the characteristics of buyers and sellers in 2023, see the full report

Top takeaways for real estate agents

While you can’t simply base your approach to each buyer or seller on general preferences for each generation, knowing these trends can help you zero in on a potential client’s pain points. From there, the more you learn, the more ways you can find to help them. 

Use what you can from this report and keep it handy. If you’re used to working with clients of a particular age range, you might ask why you haven’t worked with as many buyers or sellers of other generations and look for ways to meet them where they are