Baby Boomers flexing their housing market muscle 

Jan Stapleton - 2023 NETAR President

For years, Millennials dominated the real estate community’s attention. It makes sense. Nationally, they are the largest generation and were the lead buyer segment. But don’t rule the Baby Boomers out. 

2023 NETAR President
Association Spokesperson

According to the National Association of Realtors’® (NAR) 2023 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Boomers are again proving that they’re movers and shakers. NAR’s most recent study found Boomers were the highest share of buyers and sellers nationwide.  

Here in NE Tenn. Boomers are still the largest demographic segment. But only by about 2,500 people according to Census estimates. So why are they back leading the pack in NAR’s report? 

“Older adults may have been more insulated than other generations from the roller coaster housing market over the last year, and are now dipping into record equity to sell their homes at premiums. Baby Boomers have also been motivated to downsize and move closer to family,” according to NAR. 

Although local buyer and seller information is not segmented by age, NAR’s nationwide data is a pretty good trend recognition of what’s happening. What NAR’s report found was that people ages 58 to 77 accounted for 53% of sellers and 39% of buyers between July 2021 and June 2022. “Baby Boomers have the upper hand in home buying market,” says Jessica Lautz, NAR’s deputy chief economist and vice president of research. “The majority of them are repeat buyers who have housing equity to propel them into their dream home, be it in a place to enjoy retirement or a home near friends and family. They have living healthier and longer lives and making housing trades later in life.”  

That takes on extra significance when you consider that many of the new residents flocking to the region are retirees or near retirement. And while there were predictions that the migration process was slowing down, that hasn’t been the case here. In fact, the most current Census population estimates show the region is seeing its strongest population growth since 1997.  

And don’t forget that almost half of the homes in the local market are mortgage free and most of those owners tend to be elders. It makes perfect sense Boomers would flex their real estate muscles as the market moderates while remaining a strong sellers’ market. 

Washington Co. led the region in population growth totals in the current estimate. That fits the housing market patterns that show the Johnson City region dominates the region in total home sales and in every price band except $100,000 and below. 

According to NAR, Millennials are now playing second fiddle, comprising about 28% of buyers. They were the largest home buying group from 2014 to 2022.  

Here’s a rough segmentation of the local demographic that adds context to the trend. It’s rough because there is no official beginning and end date for the local generations. In fact, even their name is something that is set by the media. 

Baby Boomers – age 59-77 

About 126,307 local residents fit the Baby Boomer profile. They account for 28% of the local population. They also control about 70% of the disposable income and many are property owners. 

Millennials – age 27-42 

They account for 27% of the local population, with about 123,746 people. They’re a strong segment for first-time buyers and some move-ups. 

Gen Z – age 11-26 

Only the elders in the generation are in the real estate market, and many see themselves as investors instead of typical homeowner. They comprise 21% – about 98,000 people – of the local demographic. 

Generation X – age 43-48 

This group makes up 19% of the local demographic – a little over 84,000 residents. In many ways they have a similar economic profile as the Baby Boomers. It’s a segment not to be overlooked because they are prime move-up candidates. 

Silents and the Greatest Generation – age 78+ 

This is the group that is aging out of the housing market at the most rapid pace. They account for 5% – 21,386 people – of the local demographic. 

NETAR is the voice for real estate in Northeast Tennessee. It is the largest trade association in the Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia region, representing over 1,800+ members and 100+ business partners involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries. Weekly market reports and information for both consumers and members are available on the NETAR website at