Oct 20, 2021 - Real Estate
Boomers quashing millennials in Austin homebuying battles
Illustration of a "for sale" sign with a digital clock counting down from 5 seconds, then showing the blinking word "sold."
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The newest cage-match venue for young'uns and old folks: that piece of property down the street that's for sale.

Driving the news: Elbowed out by Americans 60 years and older, young people are making up a smaller share of recent homebuyers than in previous years, per a new Zillow analysis.

  • Because baby boomers are more likely to be homeowners who can use money from the sale of their current home to buy their next one, they have a built-in advantage in a bidding war against younger buyers, who are often buying their first home.

By the numbers: In the Austin metro area, per the latest Zillow stats available:

  • The median age of a homebuyer in 2019 was 40, up from 38 a decade earlier.
  • Of those 2019 buyers, 17.7% were 60 years and older, up from 13.4% in 2009.
  • Half of buyers in 2019 were 18-39 years old, compared to 55.1% of that age group in 2009.

What they're saying: "Even before the pandemic, the largest-ever generation entering their 30s and the hangover from more than a decade of underbuilding were on a collision course set to define the U.S. housing market," Jeff Tucker, senior economist at Zillow, said.

"The pandemic supercharged demand for housing, bringing the shortage into relief sooner than we expected, as millennials sought bigger homes with Zoom rooms, and older Americans accelerated retirement plans, spurring moving decisions."
  • Millennials, already grappling with white-hot housing costs from pre-pandemic trends and student debt that make saving for a down payment a tough proposition, also generally have more competition from older generations than their predecessors did, per Zillow.
  • Real estate agents say all-cash offers, which are more common for repeat buyers, are the leading strategy for winning a competitive bid.

Yes, but: Given the influx of overall millennial wealth in Central Texas, Austin has the youngest average homeowner age of any large metro in the country, per an August LendingTree report.

  • Average homeowner age in Austin: 47.6
  • Average renter age: 31.3
  • Average age of general population: 36

The big picture: "OK Boomer," the cutting millennial putdown, probably matters little to seniors as the real estate agent hands them their new home keys.

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