Generational Housing Trends

As a real estate broker, it’s critical that I am able to understand my clients’ perspective and preferences when it comes to buying and selling real estate.  Although it wouldn’t be fair to generalize everyone into four groups based on when they were born, it does help to understand how a group may think based on shared life experiences, such as living through the Great Depression, the shooting of Dr. Martin LutherKing, Jr., or the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001.  These experiences shape our perspective based on the life stage we are in at the time of the event.

According to human resource, employee training, and labor relations experts Martha and Jill Crumpacker, there are two major factors that characterize a generation: birthrate and events of the times.  In terms of birthrate, a generation begins when the birthrate increases and ends when the birthrate declines. Events of the times are important to the formation of a generation because individuals who share a similar worldview are the result of exposure to common social and historical events occurring within the same times throughout their formative years.

I recently became certified as a “Generational Housing Specialist”.  You may ask, what does that mean?  In sum, it means that I have a foundational knowledge in a variety of topics that contribute to understanding the generational effects on decision-making.

Happy smiling family portrait isolated on white background.

I became interested in generational differences while I was in graduate school, working for a real estate development consulting company that was owned by three partners all of who were in their 60s.  At the time, I was 24 years old with a few years of real estate experience under my belt and a thirst for knowledge.  It didn’t take long to see that there were differences between me and my bosses.  We had different perspectives on leadership, communication and how things should get done.  Our styles weren’t necessarily contradictory, they were just different.

To further study my everyday observations in the workplace, I chose to research how generational differences impact leadership and the organizational culture within city hall in the cities of Fresno and Clovis.   My research demonstrated that there are differences among the generations and much like within the work environment, each generation has different needs or preferences when it comes to housing.

Below is a summary of each generation’s expectations when buying or selling real estate.  Take alook at your generation and tell me if you agree or disagree:

Millenials/Generation Y (1982-2000)

  • Youngest of the first-time homebuyer
  • Prefer walkable neighborhoods and are attracted to the urban core
  •  Lots of amenities and smaller space
  •  View their investment as short term and not relevant past their current life stage
  • Low maintenance with smaller yards


Generation X (1965-1981)

  •      Prefer homes that focus on the family and allow for gathering together in “greatrooms” and innovative kitchens
  •     Interested in homes that are environmentally friendly with “green” features
  •      Not interested in formal living rooms or rooms that aren’t used for everyday living


Baby Boomers (1946-1964)

  • Prefer winding streets and cul-de-sacs with streetscapes and want to see natural features, open space, wetlands and green design
  • Single story, low maintenance home
  • Largest generation to own second homes
  • Empty nesters are moving from the suburbs to higher density urban places to experience greater cultural diversity and entertainment
  • High end kitchens, luxurious master suites and high tech rooms
  • Some Boomers are caring for children and their parents creating the need for a larger home to accommodate the entire family


Veteran/Traditionalist/Silents (1925-1945)

  • Frugal in nature, have accumulated wealth through appreciation of assets and inheritance
  • Prefer architectural diversity and universal design
  • Looking to move into smaller homes or to be closer to friends and family
  • Like gated communities