Economists' Outlook

Housing stats and analysis from NAR's research experts.

There's an App for That: Generational Home Searches

Whether they are using an app on their phones or driving around their neighborhoods looking for open house signs, home buyers of different generations search in their own, unique ways. However, there are also more similarities than one may think. For example, the oldest and youngest generations of home buyers both did not typically view any homes solely online without viewing them in person. Additionally, while 95% of all home buyers used the internet in their search, the most used information source by every generation was a real estate agent. Let's look at how one's generation can shape their home search using data from the 2022 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends report:

Table: Home Search, by Generation

Among all generations of home buyers, the first step taken in the home search process was to look online for properties. Older baby boomers contacted a real estate agent as a first step more often than other generations. Millennials were more likely than others to first talk to friends or relatives about the buying process, while the silent generation were most likely to first drive past the homes.

Table: First Step Taken During the Home Buying Process, by Age

Buyers typically searched for eight weeks and looked at a median of eight homes. The length of the home search was the longest for older millennials and older baby boomers, at 10 weeks, and shortest for the silent generation at just six weeks.

Gen Xers viewed the most homes with a median of eight homes. Younger millennials and the silent generation typically did not view any homes only online without seeing them in person.

For more than half of home buyers, the most difficult step in the home buying process was finding the right property, at 56%, which was even higher for younger millennials at 64%. As this group typically has the highest share of first-time buyers, millennials also were more likely to consider understanding the process and steps most difficult.

Table: Most Difficult Steps of Home Buying Process, by Age

Ninety-five percent of home buyers used the internet to search for homes. As a result of an internet home search, buyers most often walked through the home that they viewed online, followed by viewing the exterior of homes.

Table: Actions Taken as a Result of Internet Home Search, by Age

The most useful website feature to buyers was photos for nearly nine in 10 buyers under the age of 57. Detailed information about properties for sale was also very important to all age groups. Gen X was more likely than other generations to place a high value on virtual tours.

When asked where their internet searches were conducted, home buyers were split; they typically conducted 50% of their search on a desktop/laptop and 50% on a mobile device(s). Those aged 56 and younger were more likely to use mobile devices, and those 57 and older were more likely to use a desktop/laptop.

Bar graph: Percentage of Time Using Devices in Home Search, by Age

Buyers of all generations were overall very satisfied with their home buying process. Buyer satisfaction generally increased with age.