Young Home Buyers May be Key to Housing Market Recovery

April 01, 2011

Generation X, young families and adults ages 31 to 45, are likely to lead the home buying recovery as it gets underway, according to real estate experts who recently spoke at an educational webinar produced by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) in partnership with Builder magazine.

“At 32 percent of the population of home-buying age – generally defined as those who are at least 30 years old, the Gen X population cohort isn't the largest, but it's the most mobile,” said presenter Mollie Carmichael, principal of John Burns Real Estate Consulting in Irvine, Calif. "They are in full force with their careers and they need to accommodate growing families."

Most of the 10,000 buyers and potential buyers in 27 metro areas surveyed were optimistic about a new home purchase, with between 85 percent and 89 percent saying that it was a good time to buy a home. Only 13 percent said they thought home prices would continue to fall. In addition, though the average home size is shrinking, a majority of prospective buyers said they would like a bigger home than the one they have.

Seventy percent said that they were willing to pay $5,000 more for a green home, but those responding to the survey said that they expected new homes to already have many green technology features. They also said they would pay a premium for dark wood cabinets, a separate tub and shower and a fireplace in the living room, and more preferred a great room over formal spaces.

Webinar panelist Heather McCune, director of marketing at Bassenian/Lagoni Architects in Newport Beach, CA, said buyers are looking for homes with a connection between indoor and outdoor spaces, even in colder climates, to create the perception of greater home size, even if the space is only usable for part of the year. They also want more storage, an open floor plan and flexibility in the garage.

"While Gen X numbers are smaller than the birth cohorts before and after them, their numbers have been enlarged by steady immigration," said NAHB chief economist David Crowe. "Gen X may wait longer than their predecessors to establish their own household or buy a home because of the recent recession impacts, but the trends are still likely to occur as they have for past generations."
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