Baby boomers dominate other generations with $18T in housing wealth

The new report from Redfin places the home values of the baby boomer cohort far above other generations, though millennials are moving on up

The baby boomer generation holds more housing wealth than any other in the United States, with a collective total of $18 trillion in home values. This is according to a newly-released estimate by real estate company Redfin analyzing more than 90 million residential U.S. properties.

While millennials recorded the largest increase in collective home values year over year (rising 2.9% to $5 trillion), baby boomers are far and away the dominant generation. However, home values for baby boomers also remained flat year over year, according to the data.

Meanwhile, the values of homes owned by the Silent Generation — primarily defined as people born between 1928 and 1945 — fell 11.4% to $4.7 trillion. The $5 trillion figure for millennials illustrates that the cohort of homeowners is growing, and this marks the second quarter in a row that millennials’ collective home values have managed to remain higher than Silent Generation homeowners.

Generation X homeowners are in second place in terms of total home value for the cohort, however, its collective value dropped by 0.7% to settle at $13.4 trillion.

“The Silent Generation has lost home value as many of its members have passed away or moved into retirement homes,” the Redfin report noted. “Millennials have gained value because they’re in prime homebuying age, which means they’re purchasing substantially more homes than they were in recent years. Millennials now make up the biggest piece of the homebuying pie, purchasing roughly 60% of homes bought with mortgages over the last several years.”

Despite a general rise in home values during the pandemic period, millennial homeowners actually saw a loss in their own home equity, declining 18.2% year over year. The loss is attributed to the greater willingness of the generation to tap into the increases in equity through products like Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOCs) in order to satisfy other outstanding debt, like credit cards and student loans, or to fund home renovations.

Still, while the home values of millennials and Silent Generation members are generally comparable, Gen X and baby boomers are very far ahead of both other cohorts, with the gulf in home values between baby boomers/Gen X and millennials/Silent Generation members widening significantly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Members of the baby boomer generation represent most of the customer base for the reverse mortgage industry, though the oldest members of Generation X — generally those born around 1965 — will begin qualifying for their own Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECMs) within the next four years.

As some private-label reverse mortgage options are available to borrowers as young as 55 in some states, certain Gen X homeowners who have higher home values can explore those product options now.

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