Economists' Outlook

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Gen Xers: Affluent, Diverse, but Held by Debt

From the 2020 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends report, Gen Xers, buyers (aged 40 to 54 years), remain the second-largest share of home buyers by generation at 23% of all homebuyers in 2019 and, being the most affluent and diverse generation, have dealt with many economic setbacks. This group also accounted for 22% of recent sellers. The median age for this group was 47 years old and they were born between 1965 and 1979. They tended to be families, as 64% were married couples, and 53% had one or more children under the age of 18 years living at home. The primary reasons that Gen Xers purchased homes were the desire to own a home of their own, the desire for a larger home, and job-related relocation.

Buyers 40 to 54 years were also the most racially and ethnically diverse group of home buyers, with 24% identifying as a race other than White/Caucasian. This group also had the highest percentage of home buyers that speak another language besides English. Thirteen percent of buyers 40 to 54 years were born outside of the United States.

Given their maturing age, Gen Xers continue to have the highest median household income at $110,900, while purchasing the second-most expensive homes at a median price of $278,000. They also purchased the largest homes at a median size of 2,000 square feet. They were most likely to purchase a detached single-family home in the suburbs, and 15% purchased a multi-generational home.

However, they are also most likely to have had a mortgage application denied at seven percent, likely due to effects from the Great Recession. Gen Xers primarily used savings for the downpayment, followed by proceeds from a previous sale. These buyers were delayed a median of five years from purchasing a home due to debt; 44% were delayed for more than five years. Of the buyers that said saving for the downpayment was the most difficult step in the buying process, 38% had credit card debt (more than other generations) and 27% had student loan debt. Gen Xers also had by far the highest share that sold a distressed property at 15%, primarily in 2011. These data show that these buyers have weathered unfortunate economic circumstances, and 23% purchased a home for the first time.

Gen Xers tied for the second-largest share of home sellers at 22%. They also were the most diverse group of sellers (13% identified as non-white), had the highest median household income at $128,900, and sold homes at a median of $289,000. Among Gen Xers sellers, 10% wanted to sell earlier but could not because their home was worse less than their mortgage. Gen X sellers’ tenure in the previous home was a median of nine years. Their primary reasons for selling were that the home was too small, a job relocation, a change in family situation, and the neighborhood was less desirable; they moved a median of 39 miles from their previous home.

Fact sheet: Gen Xers

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