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2021 Real Estate Trend Report: Moving into Modernity

Opendoor’s survey reveals the behaviors of home buyers and sellers across generations in 2021.

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Brandi Luedeman

11/30/2022 · 6 min read

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Welcome to Opendoor’s National Real Estate and Consumer Trend Report, an in-depth look at today’s modern consumer and the behaviors of home buyers across generations in 2021. We gathered data in November and December 2020 from a total of 1,290 respondents across the U.S. who are planning to buy or sell a home in the next 12 months.

What did we find? The COVID-19 pandemic is still affecting when, where, why, what and even how people are buying homes. And we dug into how different generations, from millennials to baby boomers, are shifting their views and preferences for home ownership. As with many aspects of daily life, more of the home buying and selling processes have gone digital, and we anticipate that 2021 will bring even greater adoption of modern real estate experiences.

Summary of Key Findings

COVID-19 is still affecting all aspects of home buying: when, where, why, what and even how. Our data highlights major trend shifts among millennials, Generation X and baby boomers, shifts that we expect to last into 2021 and beyond.

When?

Over one-third of home buyers report that the COVID-19 vaccine will impact their moving timeline.

Where?

About 32% of buyers say that the pandemic has influenced where they’ll choose to live, from big cities to the suburbs. 35% of millennials said they plan to move to a large city, whereas 33% of baby boomers said the suburbs.

Why?

Across millennials and Generation X, the most frequently cited reason for buying a new home was lifestyle changes caused by COVID-19, coming in slightly ahead of the top reasons we usually see like getting married or having a baby.

What?

The amenities that people are looking for in homes have shifted as a result of COVID-19, with home offices, kitchens and outdoor entertaining spaces all increasing in importance. This change in preferences was especially pronounced in millennials.

How?

Since the pandemic hit, more people than ever are turning to digital solutions for all of their needs, and real estate is no exception. A full 75% of home buyers report that they would be likely to consider buying a home through a company that empowers them to control more of the process with digital tools. But baby boomers are turning to tech even more than millennials when it comes to touring homes—92% of baby boomers said they want virtual options even post-pandemic, compared to 85% of millennials.

It’s not just home buyers who are changing things up—sellers are also eager for new digital options, too. 71% of sellers said that they were likely to consider selling their home to an iBuyer.

Check out more of our findings below


The COVID-19 Effect:

Homebuyer Breakdown

Overall, 30% of buyers believe that the pandemic will “significantly” impact their home buying process. How? 32% indicated COVID-19 has influenced their choice of where to live. And 36% said the timing of the COVID-19 vaccine will impact their moving timeline.

Amenities on the Rise:

Pandemic Preferences

Since almost everyone has been spending more time at home, our little nests have become more important than ever. And certain amenities—like home offices and outdoor entertaining spaces—have seen skyrocketing demand. Millennials homebuyers have shifted their wants the most. Whereas baby boomers’ pre-pandemic preferences have remained relatively more constant.

Across all generations, the features that have changed the most relative to pre-pandemic preferences are home offices, kitchens and outdoor entertaining spaces.

When it comes to home-style preferences, our data shows that Modern and Ranch styles are the most coveted across generations. Specifically, 40% of both millennials and Gen X look for Modern style homes, and baby boomers prefer Ranch. Colonial, Cape Cod and Mid-Century Modern ranked the least popular across generations.


Buyer Behavior:

It’s a Digital World

In addition to when, where, what, and why people are buying homes, we’re also seeing a shift in how buyers are approaching purchasing their next place.

The pandemic dramatically shifted consumer behavior, with more people than ever turning to digital solutions for everything from ordering groceries and shopping to banking and doctor visits. The real estate market is no exception; on-demand and online is becoming the new norm.

In fact, a full 75% of home buyers report that they would be likely to consider buying a home through a company that helps consumers control more of the process with digital tools.

The most appealing aspect of digital tools? All age groups agree: saving money. Many also find it very appealing to manage the whole process digitally and on their own schedule without pressure.

When it comes to the actual home buying process, virtual touring options are here to stay.

Baby boomers may be perceived as being less interested in using technology compared to millennials, but, in this case, our data says otherwise. Our hypothesis is that the added convenience of seeing more aspects of a home without having to leave your couch is worth any perceived technological hassle.


Virtual Home Shopping:

So Hot Right Now

Though it seems everyone is indulging, millennials take the cake for domestic daydreaming frequency: 30% of millennials are 3x more likely to report that they browse homes on real estate apps multiple times per day compared to baby boomers at only 10%.

Even among people who aren’t planning to buy until next winter, 74% of them still report digitally browsing homes at least once per week. And 94% of people are doing so who plan to buy a home in six months’ time.

Virtually browsing for homes is also one of the first steps people make in their home buying journey. Most don’t even involve an agent.

And when it comes to actually purchasing their dream home, 35% of baby boomers are far more likely to put down 26% or more on their next home, compared to 11% of millennials and 14% of Gen X, who said they’d put down less. Only 54% of baby boomers report that they need to save for a downpayment, which is far fewer than the 82% of Gen Xers and 93% of millennials who report needing to save up before dishing out that much cash.


Home Sellers:

They Want Modern Tools, Too

It’s not just home buyers that are changing things up. Our survey shows that home sellers are also eager for new digital options.

Methodology: Opendoor collected data from 1,290 people—660 buyers and 630 sellers—across the U.S. planning to buy or sell in the next 12 months. The data was collected via Qualtrics from November 30 – December 11. For the purpose of this report, millennials are defined as ages of 24-39, Generation X is defined as ages 40 to 55 and baby boomers are defined as ages 56 to 74.

Further reading

How to determine how much home you can afford

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Brandi LuedemanAuthor