The 7 characteristics of 2017’s Silent Generation buyers that agents need to know

by James McClister

silent generation real estate buyers single family 2017 preferences profile

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, Young Boomers and Old Boomers. And now we look at The Silent Generation (ages 65 and up), who, as our tables below illustrate, are looking for peace, quiet, and comfort.

Goals of Buying

What Generation Y is looking for in a home is comfort – not only comfort in their home, but comfort in their area. Agents looking for a comprehensive overview of how any specific location is suited to older generations should consult AARP’s Livability Index, which provides hyper specific ratings on dozens of metrics, including access to healthcare, availability of convenient transportation options, and housing affordability.

Goals of Buying The Silent Generation (65+)
Physical comforts 21.27
Privacy 16.73
Family 13.81
Stability 13.04
Financial investment 10.37
*Based on a 100-point scale

Motivations for Buying

There are three motivators driving home purchase decisions among the country’s 65-and-up population: convenience to friends and family, retirement, and low interest rates. There is a caveat, though, to the interest rate motivation. Some agents may see today’s 4.3-plus mortgage rates, compare it to the last two years, and think the rate rise will dissuade buyers; however, it likely won’t, because, historically, 4.3 percent (or even 5 percent) is still very low.

Motivations for Buying The Silent Generation (65+)
Desire to live closer to family/friends 29%
Considering retirement 28%
Favorable interest rate 28%
Relocated to a new city 15%
Needed special features 14%

Time Frame for Purchases

Despite their age, Silent Generation buyers are looking to make their move quickly (perhaps to capitalize on the lowest possible mortgage rates). Young Boomers are the only generation with a higher share wanting to buy within three months.

Time Frame for Purchases The Silent Generation (65+)
1-3 months 34%
10-12 months 19%
7-9 months 16%
13-18 months 7%
Within 1 month 7%

Most Preferred Purchases

Reflective of their motivations, 65-and-up buyers most want a place that puts them close to friends and family. However, they also showed a distinct preference for a quality home that will not require much maintenance.

Most Preferred Purchases The Silent Generation (65+)
Convenient to friends/family 10.531
Quality of construction 9.902
Lower maintenance costs 8.62
Safer neighborhood 8.471
Convenient to amenities 7.314
*Based on a 100-point scale

Location Preference

Agents shouldn’t expect to see many 65-and-up buyers flocking to urban cores. They are looking for a slower pace of life – think suburbs and small towns.

Location Preference The Silent Generation (65+)
Suburbs (closer to urban core) 36%
Small town 22%
Outlying suburbs 17%
No preference 10%
Urban area 9%
Rural area 5%

Property Type Preference

Aligned with every other generation, the country’s oldest buyers want a detached, single-family home. One unique preference, however, is their draw to mobile homes. Eleven percent of buyers 65 and up prefer mobile homes, more than double any other generation.

Property Type Preference The Silent Generation (65+)
Single-family home 69%
Townhouse/Rowhouse 14%
Mobile 11%
Multifamily 5%
Condo/apartment 2%

Impediments to Purchase

The biggest roadblocks facing Silent Generation buyers is finding a home with everything they need in a neighborhood with access to everything else they need. Agents have an opportunity to be a significant resource for such buyers.

Impediments to Purchase The Silent Generation (65+)
Haven’t found a house that meets needs 42%
Just starting to explore 23%
Haven’t decided on a neighborhood 20%
Can’t find home in budget 19%
Can’t (or need to) sell current home 12%