7 important qualities of the Baby Boomer buyer in 2017

by Chip Bell


Understanding buyers is going to be especially important this year – interest rates and prices are rising, inventory shortages remain commonplace throughout the U.S., and our housing market is now operating under a president promising a broad spectrum of change.

A recent realtor.com survey gauged the interests and motivations driving the buying decisions of each generation. We’ve already broken down the specifics of Millennials, Gen Xers and Young Boomers. And now we look at Old Boomers (ages 55 to 64), who, as our tables below illustrate, are in a position to put preferences ahead of obligations.

Goals of Buying

The majority of buyers between the ages of 55 and 64 are looking for privacy, a good investment and comfort.

Buying Goals Old Boomers (55-64)
Privacy 17.25
Financial investment 17
Physical comforts 16.01
Stability 12.99
Family 12.19
*Based on a 100-point scale

Motivations for Buying

There is a clear, primary motivator behind Old Boomers decision to move, and it’s retirement – something the market’s been anticipating for quite some time.

Motivations for Buying Old Boomers (55-64)
Considering retirement 35%
Relocating to a new city 18%
Change in family circumstances 16%
Favorable home prices 16%
Favorable interest rates 14%

Time Frame for Purchases

There is a divide between Old Boomers in regards to purchase time, as more than one quarter (i.e., the majority) plan to close within three months, while another 21 percent are aiming for closer to one year. The difference may be a reflection of confidence in the income Trump administration.

Time Frame for Purchases Old Boomers (55-64)
1-3 months 26%
10-12 months 21%
4-6 months 16%
13-18 months 10%
7-9 months 10%

Most Preferred Purchases

The purchases Old Boomers most prefer lends insight into the sort of buyers they are – which is the kind that are looking for quality construction over safer neighborhoods, and larger yards over good schools.

Most Preferred Purchases Old Boomers (55-64)
Quality of construction 10.662
Larger yard 9.615
Convenient to friends/family 8.877
Lower cost per square foot 6.969
Better floor plans 6.769
*Based on a 100-point scale

Location Preference

Old Boomers show a clear preference towards suburban settings. And while the majority (26 percent) describe their ideal location as closer to an urban core (and likely its amenities), preferences towards exurbs and rural areas also speak to a broader desire to be in a quieter, slower-paced environment.

Location Preference Old Boomers (55-64)
Suburbs (closer to urban core) 26%
Outlying suburbs 24%
Rural area 18%
No preference 14%
Small town 14%
Urban area 5%

Property Type Preference

More than any generation, Old Boomers want to be in a detached single-family home.

Property Type Preference Old Boomers (55-64)
Single-family home 71%
Townhouse/Rowhouse 10%
Condo/apartment 9%
Multifamily 7%
Mobile 2%

Impediments to Purchase

It’s very telling how few Old Boomer buyers are being hung up by budget (18 percent) and down payment (13 percent) constraints. Only members of the Silent Generation (ages 65 and up) have a lower percentage of buyers affected by down payment costs. And no generation has fewer buyers constricted by budget. Most, it seems, are in a good position to buy and taking their time to find the home that is just right.

Impediments to Purchase Old Boomers (55-64)
Haven’t found a house that meets needs 35%
Just starting to explore 26%
Haven’t decided on a neighborhood 21%
Can’t find home in budget 18%
Can’t afford downpayment 13%

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