Different generations have different values and priorities. While many appreciate the stability and investment diversity a home can add to their lives, what they’re looking for, how much they can afford and the ways they search for homes can vary greatly.

Thankfully, just released a survey analyzing homebuying patterns throughout the generations. One similarity Baby Boomers, Gen X and Millennials shared was their penchant for perusing online data through sites like Zillow, Trulia and Homebuyer to track down leads. This dependency on digital data is likely to continue, which is why Finance of America is working tirelessly on our own online initiatives, such as Cloudvirga. Our leading provider of digital mortgage point-of-sale software has undergone a new update, adding new design features that improve lender speed, compliance and productivity.

On the homebuying preferences side of things, found a few interesting patterns within the generations that are worth keeping your eye on:

Gen X Prides Themselves on Independence

The survey found 78 percent of Gen X homebuyers plan to rely heavily on online data for their investment decisions. Though many still work with an agent, this generation is found to be much more independent and self-reliant than others. Gen X was also more likely (62 percent) to determine where their interest lies and whittle down their selection to a few options before engaging an agent.

Millennials Prefer Assistance

Millennials are known as the online generation – and that still applies to researching homes – but to a lesser extent than it does for Gen X. One in five Millennials surveyed admitted they tended to be indecisive. This was exemplified in the fact that this cohort also said they relied heavily on agents to tell them what neighborhoods and houses they should tour and consider. Budgeting is also an issue for some Millennials. A full 40 percent of the Millennial homebuyers surveyed said they went over budget by an average of $24,545.

Boomers Appreciate Experts, But Know What They Want

With age comes experience and wisdom – two traits Baby Boomers tend to utilize when buying a home. This generation relied on agents to do their jobs, including handling all the necessary paperwork, providing deadlines and imparting guidance when requested, but generally depended on their own knowledge and intuition to determine what they wanted. No surprise here – they were also better at budgeting than the other generations. Only 19 percent of survey respondents said they went over budget by an average of $8,024.

Food for Thought

We may not be real estate agents, but we end up working with the exact same clients whose needs don’t change once they move from home touring to the loan application process. It is essential for us to understand and appreciate the broader characterizations that define the different generations. This also helps us build rapport with our real estate agent partners as we can empathize with the types of clients, questions and concerns they deal with on a daily basis.

Studies like this also help us understand that Millennials will rely heavier on us to guide them through the loan process. This may involve more correspondence via text or email as questions come up and they read more about mortgages online. Boomers are likely to be more familiar with the homebuying process, but they will expect professional service, a convenient, streamlined process and a loan officer who is able to confidently respond to all their requests. Gen X’s hands-on nature may lead them to shop around more, inquiring about whether they qualify for this product or that rate. They will still require guidance, of course, but their penchant for being involved in the process should be welcomed.

Naturally, these findings are simply broad traits that tend to stand out among individuals of a certain age raised in a certain generation. Every potential borrower should be received with an open mind, but it never hurts to understand the cultural context in which someone may be operating.

Regional Vice President - Southwest

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