All this talk about millennials … baby boomers … and Gen Z. Doesn't anyone care about Gen X? You know, that forgotten generation of 40- and early 50-somethings?
If you design, build or remodel homes, or sell to those who do, you should.
Gen X might be smaller than other generations, but its buying power is mighty. Gen X's share of household net worth has grown from 17.4% in 2017 to 26.9% in 20211, according to the Federal Reserve. While baby boomers still hold the most net worth, Gen Xers are in their prime earning years and are ready to put more of that into the housing market.
Here are some important things to know about the generation that grew up with grunge, hip-hop, cable news and home video gaming:
Prefer Added Features
Gen X buyers love the features a larger home can bring, according to the National Association of Home Buyer's What Home Buyers Really Want, 2021 Edition2. For example, both Gen Xers and millennials had very similar preference percentages for these features, which were higher than those for other generations:
They're also interested in higher-end kitchen features, including a central island with a range (64%), a steam oven (47%) and a wine cooler (52%). You can meet those needs with the NOIR™ 48" Dual-Fuel Professional Range with Chrome-Infused Griddle, which provides a polished aesthetic while offering the functionality of simmering, melting, searing and more. When it comes time for happy hour, Gen X buyers will appreciate this KitchenAidⓇ 24" Stainless Steel Wine Cellar that features two temperature-controlled zones to help preserve the flavor and integrity of individual wines and allows white and red wines to be stored at a separate temperature.
Want Bigger Homes and Lots
Gen X home purchases are often move-ups to bigger and better properties. The age group of 41 to 55 years old went from owning an average of 2,000 square-foot homes to buying ones with 2,300 square feet3, according to the 2021 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
Also, as the top-earning generation4 of home purchasers, Gen X is paying an average of more than $40,000 more for these new homes; about 20% said they bought a new home because the current one was too small; and they are more likely than any other generation to want three or more bedrooms and bathrooms in their next home. They also want lots of land - 39%5 of Gen Xers have a minimum requirement of at least a 1-acre lot; 25% want a half acre or more.
Need Functionality and Space for Multiple Generations
Members of Gen X could be living through what experts call the "sandwich generation6," when homeowners might be raising young children at the same time they're caring for elderly parents. Of all generations surveyed by the NAR, Gen X buyers were the most likely to have children younger than 18 (61%) and to buy a multi-generational home7 (18%). The main reasons for the multigenerational home purchases were to take care of aging parents and family members over 18 years old moving back home, possibly along with kids at home younger than 18.
An American Institute of Architects (AIA) Home Design Trends Survey8 reported demand for universal design, defined as "design features that are accessible to all people regardless of age or ability," which is essential for a multigenerational household. Consider features such as wall ovens that prevent homeowners from having to bend over, touch-controlled drawers and cabinets, and motion-sensing light switches.
Will Keep Options Open
Even if Gen Xers just bought a home, they're likely scoping out what their next one might look like.
In the NAR survey, only 20% who recently purchased homes said their current dwelling is their "forever" home. About 1 in 3 said major life changes - such as children moving out and retirement - could spur another move. And, only about 10% - the same number as the younger baby boomers group - said they might move because of the need to downsize.