Economists' Outlook

Housing stats and analysis from NAR's research experts.

Silent Generation: Retiring and Downsizing

The 2020 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends report tells us that the silent generation, buyers aged 74 to 94 years, made up the smallest share of buyers by age at only 6% of all homebuyers in 2019, as well as 8% of sellers. The median age for this group was 77 years and they were born between 1925 and 1945. They tended to have the smallest families; 94% of these buyers had no children living at home under the age of 18 years and they had the second-highest share of single female buyers at 21%. Those aged 74 to 94 years bought the most multi-generational homes at 18%. For those that purchased a multi-generational home, the reason was for the health and caretaking of aging relatives at 22%.

Buyers 74 to 94 had the shortest home search of any age group, viewing a median of only six homes over an eight-week period. They were the most likely to find the home they purchased via their real estate agent and also to contact a real estate agent as the first step in their search process. They were the least likely to compromise on the price of the home (19%). The silent generation also were most likely to purchase in a resort/recreation area at 6%.

The silent generation had the smallest share of first-time homebuyers at only 5%, which was expected for their age group. Correspondingly, they made up the largest share to move directly from a home that they owned at 81%. They also had the lowest median household income at $70,000, likely living off retirement funds. Despite having the lowest household income, they purchased homes above the overall average, at a median home price of $264,000. These buyers were likely able to purchase homes at these higher prices using proceeds from selling their previous home; they downsized in both home size and price. The silent generation also purchased the newest homes last year with a median construction year of 2001, and the second smallest homes at a median size of 1,750 square feet.

Buyers aged 74 to 94 years were the second most likely age group to purchase new construction at 16% and wanted the ability to choose and customize design features (32%). These buyers were the most likely to purchase a duplex, apartment, or condominium at 13%. As is expected, they were also the most likely to buy a home in senior-related housing at 26%. These buyers moved a median of 20 miles and, more than other age groups, wanted a home convenient to friends and family (53%) and for the convenience to shopping (39%).

The age group of buyers 74 to 94 years was the highest share among the generations to purchase for the desire to be closer to friends and family (24%) and for a smaller home (24%). They had an expected tenure in the home at a median of 10 years. They were the most likely to move due to a household member’s health (34%) and expected this to be their forever home (33%).

Silent generation fact sheet