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BAM Key Details

  • Opendoor commissioned a survey to understand Gen X and Boomer behaviors around buying and selling a home, specifically the emotions they felt throughout either process. 
  • Based on survey results, 66% of home sellers and buyers aged 55+ feel emotionally attached to their homes, compared to 34% with little or no attachment. 
  • The top three emotions felt by 55+ homebuyers and sellers were anticipation, excitement, and stress. The emotion felt the least was joy. 

The biggest stumbling block to selling a home for Gen Xers and Boomers could be rooted in their emotions. 

Over the next 10 years, an estimated $68 trillion in wealth will change hands during what’s being called “The Great Wealth Transfer” from Boomers to younger generations. And a majority of these estates will include a home. 

But when it comes to letting go of a home they’ve lived in for a decade-plus, sentimental attachment can get in the way, prolonging the moving timeline and, in turn, impacting the overall housing market as well as the Great Wealth Transfer. 

And that raises a question: Are 55+ home sellers and buyers putting an emotional return on investment (EROI) ahead of price before selling and making their next move?

That’s why Opendoor commissioned a survey to better understand the motives and emotions of Gen X and Boomer home sellers and buyers. 

Here’s what they found. 

Americans aged 55+ are emotionally attached to their homes

More than six out of ten (66%) homebuyers and sellers aged 55+ feel a moderate to strong emotional attachment to their homes, with 37% reporting some sentimental attachment and 29% reporting a strong attachment. 

About a third (34%) feel little to no sentimental attachment to their homes.  

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Caption text: BAMx makes it easy to share data like this with consumers with weekly customizable templates. This is one slide from an Instagram carousel template. Learn more about BAMx here

Keep in mind, 30% of Boomer and Gen X home sellers have lived in their homes for at least 15 years. 

Asked about their top concerns with selling their home, a majority of sellers cited the usual suspects: 

  • Pricing
  • Timing
  • Listing their homes
  • Lining up their home sale and next home purchase

But more than a quarter of them (28%) cited letting go of a home that has sentimental value, most often due to memories created and shared within those walls. And 22% say their emotional attachment to the home was a major factor influencing their home-selling decision.

For about one-third of the sellers in the survey (33%), meant saying goodbye to a place full of precious memories. 

On the other hand, 36% said finalizing the paperwork and handing the keys to the new homeowner brought them some joy and solace—making that moment one of the most enjoyable steps in the process of moving on. 

Emotions surrounding the home sale

The biggest emotions felt by 55+ homebuyers and sellers were— 

  1. Anticipation (reported by 42% of respondents)
  2. Excitement (37%)
  3. Stress (34%)

Among later-in-life celebrations, 65% of 55+ home sellers and buyers ranked selling a home as one of the most stressful, tied with starting a new job. Next in line were— 

  • Buying a home (62%)
  • Planning a wedding (48%)

That should drive home the importance of simplifying the home selling process as much as possible to help homeowners transition to their next chapter with minimal trauma. 

Moving on to more positive emotions, the life event cited by 55+ home sellers and buyers as the one they’re most enthusiastic about is buying a home (68%), followed by—

  • Traveling to a dream vacation (64%)
  • Renovating a home (52%)

A little less than one-third (31%) said their overall state of mind throughout the home selling/buying process was “calm and collected,” which makes sense given a clear majority (65%) rated home selling as one of the most stressful life events. 

In fact, 42% said they felt stressed or anxious during the home selling/buying process. 

According to the survey, the least-experienced emotion among buyers and sellers aged 55+ was joy. Just under a quarter of the sellers responding to the survey (24%) said they did not enjoy a single step in the process of selling their home. 

Read the full report for more information, including methodology.