Economists' Outlook

Housing stats and analysis from NAR's research experts.

Generation X: Buying the Biggest Homes & Biggest Home Sellers

Generation X, buyers ages 37 to 51 years, make up the second largest share of home buyers by generation at 28 percent of all home buyers in 2016. The median age for this group is 43 years old and they were born between 1965 and 1979. They tend to have the largest families; 62 percent of these buyers have one or more children under the age of 18 years living at home—30 percent have two children under 18 years at home—and they make up the highest share of buyers that are married couples at 68 percent. The primary reasons that Generation X purchases homes is the desire for a larger home, job-related relocation, and change in family situation more than other generations.

Generation X make up the second largest share of first-time home buyers at 26 percent. Correspondingly, they make up the largest share to purchase detached single-family homes at 87 percent. They also have the highest median household income at $106,600, boosted by double income couples. They also purchase homes in accordance with their incomes and buy the most expensive homes of all generations—a median home price of $261,000. This generation of buyers also purchases the largest homes in size at a median square feet of 2,100.

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Buyers 37 to 51 years are also the most racially and ethnically diverse group of home buyers, with 21 percent identifying as a race other than White/Caucasian. This group also have the highest percentage of home buyers that speak another language besides English. Thirteen percent of buyers 37 to 51 years were not born in the United States.

Generation X purchases new homes for the ability to choose and customize design features and previously owned homes for more charm and character. These buyers, like Millennials, purchase the shortest median distance from their previous home at a median of 10 miles. Generation X are the most likely to purchase in neighborhoods that were convenient to schools. This group is the most likely to compromise on the condition of the home at 21 percent. The length of the home search is the longest for Generation X buyers at 12 weeks, while all other generations search for a median of 10 weeks.

Generation X primarily uses savings and proceeds from a previous sale for the downpayment of their home purchase. However, these buyers are delayed four years from purchasing a home due to debt. Eighteen percent of buyers 37 to 51 are delayed five years and 27 percent are delayed more than five years from buying a home. Of these buyers that said saving for the downpayment was the most difficult step in the buying process, 41 percent have credit card debt and 15 percent have child care expenses, more than other generations. This group of buyers also have the highest median amount of student loan debt at $30,000. This group of buyers cancels vacations more than other age groups in order to save for a home. Equal with Millennials, 45 percent said that the mortgage application was not difficult or no more difficult than expected. Of the six percent that have a mortgage lender reject their application, 20 percent said it was due to their debt to income ratio. Generation X also has the highest share that sold a distressed property at 14 percent, primarily in 2011. More than other generations, buyers 37 to 51 use a fixed-rate mortgage at 93 percent.

Generation X is the largest share of home sellers at 29 percent. They also have the highest median selling incomes at $122,100 and sell median priced homes at $240,000. Among Generation X sellers, one in five wanted to sell earlier but could not because their home was worse less than their mortgage. Sellers typically purchased their home 10 years ago, in 2006. Generation X sellers equally are the most racially and ethnically diverse of the generations. On par with Millennials, they move within the same state at the highest rates. Buyers 37 to 51 sell the most homes in urban and central city areas and move the shortest distances. Their primary reasons for selling is a job relocation, the neighborhood is less desirable, and a change in family situation.