Real Estate Trends 2023 – Home Search Process

07, September, 2023

In 2013, the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) started producing an annual report on buying and selling trends across generations. It’s full of good information, but it’s also 130-plus pages long. We’re sharing highlights from the 2023 report to save you from the search. (If you want to read the full report, the link is at the end of this article.)

Today we’re looking at the Home Search Process. If there’s one thing all generations agreed on, it’s using the internet to look for a home. To refine that further, looking for a property online was the most popular first step in the process, no matter what your age. However, the biggest generational divide showed up in the devices used to search. We’ll dive into that later, but you probably already know the answer.

More From The 2023 NAR Report

Understand the characteristics of homes purchased and how real estate trends differ by generations.

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The home search by the numbers

Let’s break down two important questions: How long did it take to find a home to buy, and how many homes did buyers look at? The information in these two sections is expressed as a median, and it’s important to remember that means there were as many numbers above that number as below.  

How long did it take to find a home?

The median search time across all generations was 10 weeks, with Younger Baby Boomers (58-67 years old) taking the longest at 12 weeks, and the Silent Generation (77-97 years old) and Gen X (43-57 years old) taking only 8 weeks. Younger Boomers also waited the longest time before they contacted a real estate agent, which might have added to the time it took to find a home.

How many homes did a home searcher see?

Baby Boomers apparently like to look at houses! Or maybe they just needed to see more homes before making a decision to buy. Either way, both Older (68-76 years old) and Younger Boomers looked at a median of six homes, while the other generations looked at five.

Millennial first-time homebuyers move into their new home with dog

Overwhelmingly online

If you looked for a home, you looked online. The only generation with less than 90% of home searchers looking online was the Silent Generation, and they were still at 84%. The percentage soared to 99% for Older (33-42 years old) and Younger (24-32 years old) Millennials. However, when asked where they got their information, all generations agreed that real estate agents were the bee’s knees, with over 80% of each age range mentioning agents.

Where did the search start?

What was the first step in the homebuying process? You guessed it: looking online. Almost 50% of all ages started on the internet. After that came contacting a real estate agent, but it was a distant second at 18% for all buyers. Contacting a bank or mortgage lender was fourth, but we think buyers should start there. Why? By talking to a loan officer, they can find out how much they can afford, what their credit report means, what they need for a down payment, and what their monthly payment will be. If you’re thinking of buying a home, talk to us first!

The best thing about listing sites was…

Two things stood out above everything else. Number one: photos. Number two: detailed property information. Features like virtual tours and videos were less popular. If buyers were interested, they wanted a live showing.

And after looking online, buyers did this

Buyers most often toured the home they’d looked at online. They also decided to find a real estate agent. Between a quarter (Millennials and Gen X) and almost a half (Silent Generation) took the plunge and put in an offer.

What about the whole homebuying process?

How did buyers feel? Pretty good, as it turns out.

The hardest part of the homebuying process was … finding the right home

Over half of all home searchers said finding the right property was their most difficult step. Given the state of the real estate market, with tight inventory, high home values, and competition from other buyers, it’s no wonder this was the top concern. Paperwork was the next consistent challenge, followed by understanding the process.

Saving for a down payment was a big concern for Millennials and Gen X that almost disappeared for Baby Boomers and Silent Generation buyers. That makes sense because they’ve had more time to build up home equity and establish themselves financially.

Finally, 20% of all buyers said they didn’t have any difficult steps. We’re also happy to say that getting a mortgage wasn’t high on anyone’s list of challenges!

Characteristics of homebuyers

Satisfaction was high

For all the challenges of buying a home, about 90% of all buyers were either “Very Satisfied” or “Somewhat Satisfied” with their homebuying process. Very few fell into the “Highly Dissatisfied” category.  

Bonus answer

You didn’t think we’d forget to tell you what devices homebuyers used in their searches, did you? Younger and Older Millennials, and Gen X, used mobile devices over 70% of the time. Younger Boomers split their time 50-50 between mobile and desktop, and Older Boomers were tied to their desktops 70% of the time. Given the way technology has evolved over the years, this makes sense.


We may not be able to help you search for a home, but we can make your search for a home loan easy. And when you find the home you want, no matter where you find it or how long it takes, a CCM pre-approval will strengthen your offer. Contact us.

About the National Association of Realtors® Generational Trends Report

The National Association of Realtors® 2023 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report was researched and written by the National Association of Realtors® Research Group. It’s based on data gathered from primary residence homebuyers who purchased their properties between July 2021 and June 2022. For more information or to see the full report, visit

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