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‘Emotional attachment’ may prolong seniors’ moving timelines: Opendoor

Older Americans value their homes as both an asset and a place of personal value, which could be keeping them there longer, the report suggests

Baby boomers and members of Generation X are staying in their homes for longer, which may be due to the high level of emotional attachment they have in their homes.

This is according to a new report from Opendoor, which describes emotional attachment to the home as “an oft-ignored consideration in real estate decision-making for those aged 55 and up.”

Even as older Americans make their voices heard when it comes to aging-in-place preferences, some in the mortgage business have taken issue with older homeowners staying in their homes for longer periods of time. This keeps single-family inventory out of the hands of prospective buyers who may be looking to start raising families.

But ignoring the sentimentality that older homeowners have for their houses misses a key part of the picture, the report suggests.

“The vast majority [of surveyed older homeowners] (66%) said they’re emotionally attached to their homes,” the report reads. “Notably, according to the data, around 56% of 55+ home sellers have lived in their homes for 15+ years. Respondents told us they most experience anticipation (42%), excitement (37%), and stress (34%) when home buying and selling.”

Some Americans may not be able to decouple the market value of their home from the sentimental value. “This suggests that emotional attachment can delay homeowners’ moving timelines, and potentially keep them on the sidelines longer,” the report added.

The emotional impact on an older homeowner that could come with letting go of their home is also under-assessed, the report suggested, finding that it is among the most stressful of life milestones experienced bu older Americans.

“When it comes to later-in-life celebrations, 55+ Americans often think of real estate, career, travel, and relationship-focused milestones,” the results said. “When presented with a few examples in those categories, a majority of 55+ sellers and buyers said selling a home (65%) was among the most stressful. This selection is tied with starting a new job (65%) and followed by buying a home (62%) next, then planning a wedding (48%).”

The reports also suggests a simplification of the home selling process to limit “unnecessary hassles.”

Opendoor’s “Emotions in Real Estate Report” was conducted by market research firm YouGov through an online survey conducted in December 2023, using a sample size of 2,010 U.S. adults “who had either bought or sold a home within the last 12 months or were in the process of doing so, including those in the initial stages,” according to the methodology. A variety of age demographics were surveyed, with those ages 55 and older specified in this report.

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