The Generation X Homebuyer



Once pigeonholed as “slackers,” members of Generation X are now in their mid-20s to mid-30s and having a significant impact on home buying and building trends. Though the high cost of housing on the South Coast makes it difficult for Gen X to break into the market, when they are able to buy — through IPO bonuses, good old fashioned savings, 100 percent financing or help from mom and dad — they want different things than their parents did.

Quality is important. “They are happier with one good thing rather than three average things,” said Greg Nester, owner of Greg Nester Construction & Development and President of the Home Builders Association of the Central Coast. Their dream house might be smaller than their parents’ house, but not necessarily less expensive. “They want the best product they can get for the money they spend,” said Nester.

It’s all about value. This is a generation that has seen dot bombs and the stock market roller coaster. That uncertainty leads to more cautious spending. “Where wealthy boomers might brag about how much they pay for something, Gen Xers relish talking about how much they managed to save — and that applies even to those in the top income brackets,” said a recent survey by marketing-strategy firm Reach Advisors.

Homes should fit their lifestyles. “Gen X are goers, they’re not sitting at home. They come home in the evening and would prefer to have less of a burden as far as maintenance goes,” said Nester. For example, they don’t’ want elaborate kitchens because they say they don’t cook that often.

Flexible interior spaces. “They want media rooms and functional areas that replace the classic dining room and formal living rooms. Secondary to home theater and media rooms are rooms that are more computer and study oriented,” said Nester. They’re also not afraid to embrace new styles like concrete countertops instead of traditional tile. Stained and glazed concrete floors are becoming more common as well as more modern plumbing fixtures. Xers like to be able to customize their living spaces, said Nester.

They’re not running to the ‘burbs. “Many Xers prefer inner city living. … They are purchasing properties that may have mixed use with retail below and a condo above for residential,” said Nester. While many Santa Barbara suburbanites can’t understand why anyone would want to live above a business, this fits in well with city plans for infill development.

Originally published in South Coast Beacon on May 20, 2004.

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