What Today’s Buyers and Sellers Want in 2024

Stay ahead of the curve and understand the latest Zillow Consumer Housing Trends data revealing what homeowners and prospects are looking for in today’s real estate market 

Divorce, separation, births, death, job relocations, and high school graduations are just a few of the life changes that can motivate buyers and sellers to move.

In recent years, an increasing number of intergenerational family members seeking to share a roof has also led to new creative partnerships in homeownership. In fact, NAR’s 2023 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers reported that 14% of all home buyers in 2023 were motivated to purchase a home to accommodate multiple generations in their family. 

While last year’s rising interest rates put the brakes on for-sale inventory, Zillow’s 2024 Housing Market Predictions report that researchers expect more homes to hit the market in 2024. Likewise, if home values hold steady, as Zillow predicts, and interest rates come down or level off, the increased affordability may lead to more buyers entering the market.

Understanding who today’s buyers and sellers are, what motivates them to move, and what features buyers are looking for in a home will help you expand your marketing reach, provide customers with valuable insights, and turn the focus on the right real estate imagery to help your listing resonate with your target market.

Who Are Today’s Prospective Buyers and Sellers?

According to Zillow Consumer Housing Trends Data 2023, today’s typical buyer is a married or partnered young adult in their 30s or 40s, has some college education, owns at least one pet, and is likely to live in the South (34%), or the West (29%). 

While the share of first-time home buyers trended slightly downward from 2018 to 2021, that trend rebounded with 45% of buyers in 2022 and 50% of buyers in 2023 being first-timers. According to Zillow’s data report, part of this trend might be explained by last year’s rising interest rates, which caused many current homeowners to hold onto their locked-in lower rates.

Similar to buyers, today’s typical U.S. seller is 45 years old; partnered, married or previously married; has some college education; and is most likely to sell in the South (40%). In mid-2023, the typical seller’s home was a single-family detached house with three bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, and between 2,000 and 3,000 square feet. 

Why are Buyers and Sellers Looking to Move?

One of the first questions you may want to ask a prospective client is why they want to purchase a new home or why a seller may be thinking about putting their home on the market. Having these open and honest conversations during a digital listing presentation may help you better align a customer’s goals with market conditions and develop a successful listing strategy.   

In the latest Zillow Consumer Housing Trends Report, about 82% of sellers reported that at least one life event had an impact on their decision to move and sell their home. More than half (56%) cited a change in household or family size, while 41% reported remote work and 37% said a new job or job transfer were influential factors triggering their move. 

Most of the dual seller-buyers (58%) reported selling first then buying a home. Seller-buyers also tended to buy a home with the same number of bedrooms (49%) and were more likely to buy a home with more bedrooms (32%) than fewer (19%). 

For buyers, affordability and job relocations top their motivating factors to move, but other factors can largely influence their decision where they move. For instance, buyers with pets noted that a pet at least somewhat (80%) influenced their home-buying decision. 

Knowing the motivations behind a move may be helpful in your marketing approach. For instance, you might target price-sensitive prospective buyers with an email nurture campaign as home prices drop. 

For relocators who can’t tour every prospective home in person, an immersive listing experience like Showcase listings, featuring high-resolution photography, a virtual tour, an interactive floor plan and aerial photography, can help connect the photography to the specific room and layout to provide a deeper sense of the home.

What Are Today’s Home Buyers Looking For in Real Estate?

Home Office or Flex Space. The COVID-19 pandemic largely influenced buyers’ wish lists in-home features, and many of those same wants and desires continue to trend. For example, the movement toward remote-based distributed workforces has and continues to influence home migration patterns across the U.S. 

According to U.S. Postal Service data, seven major cities, including Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York City, are continuing to experience “out-migration” with more people moving out of these major metro areas due to ongoing hybrid and remote working. 

One consequence of remote-based work is the continued desire for a home office or flex space in a home. According to the Zillow Consumer Housing Trends Report, most prospective homeowners (64%) report having an extra room for use as a home office as “very or extremely important” in their search.

Agents might seize the opportunity to emphasize the presence of a home office in the listing. The interactive floor plan and virtual tour of a Showcase listing, for instance, can help highlight the location of the home office or flex space in relation to the other living spaces and common areas in the house. 

Fixer-Uppers. Zillow’s 2024 Housing Market Predictions also foresee homes in need of a little TLC – typically the target of home flippers – attracting more interest among primary residence shoppers this year. With inventory levels still below normal, buyers may be willing to overlook an outdated bathroom or kitchen if the price, location, and overall features remain attractive. 

Listing Media Services offers imagery options like virtual staging and/or furniture removal, virtual twilight and green grass replacement that might help improve the appearance of these and other properties.      

Open Floor Plan. Research shows that buyers appreciate open, flowing floor plans that allow for easy movement across common spaces and inspire a sense of connectivity within the home. According to Zillow’s Consumer Housing Trends Report 2023, more than half of buyers (54%) prefer a contemporary open floor plan over a traditional closed floor plan (22%) or have no preference (24%). 

Listing agents can play up the free-flowing open room concept with a Showcase listing’s virtual tour and interactive floor plan, which work in tandem to help give the home shopper the next best thing to an in-person home tour. 

Energy-Efficiency Features. At least one climate risk will have some influence on where most prospective buyers (83%) shop for a home, with floods the most commonly cited risk (41%) followed by wildfires and extreme temperatures (37%). Millennial buyers are particularly concerned about climate risks, with 33% considering them extremely impactful in their home search, according to Zillow’s consumer trends report. 

The increased awareness of environmental concerns and rising energy costs are helping raise the bar on a home’s energy-efficient features among prospective buyers. According to a Zillow study, homes with energy-efficient features, such as double-pane windows and solar panels, are not only more appealing to buyers but may also sell for more and, sometimes, faster. Therefore, sellers who highlight energy-efficient upgrades such as solar panels, energy-star rated appliances and efficient insulation in their listings may realize a competitive edge. 

Preferred Floor Plan. Nearly three-quarters of buyers ranked a floor plan that fits their preferences as a “very or extremely important” characteristic in the home, according to the Zillow Consumer Housing Trends report. Showcase listings recently came out with a new interactive floor plan on the street map to not only connect the photography to the location in the home but also give the viewer the orientation of the home to the adjacent streets.

Outdoor Living Spaces. The pandemic triggered a national trend toward outdoor kitchens, patios, decks and al fresco entertainment spaces.  Agents can help highlight these coveted features by widening the lens in their listing imagery to show the full property, including adjacent, exterior landscaping, pool spaces and outdoor kitchens with hi-res photography and aerial photography from Listing Media Services.

Tech in the Home Search. According to Zillow’s trends data report, today’s buyer wants digital tools that assist remote viewings. A majority (72%) report that 3D tours would give them a better feel for the home space than static photos. 

Digital options, such as remote viewings and 3D tours, like Listing Showcase’s virtual tour and interactive floor plan, also curry favor with sellers. The Zillow report found that sellers are more likely to hire an agent who includes virtual tours and/or interactive floor plans in their services (78%). Most also said they’re more likely to hire an agent who includes hi-resolution photography (81%) in their services. About 60% of sellers in the Zillow survey found including a virtual tour in their home listing is “very or extremely important,” and an even larger share (76%) said that including a floor plan in the listing was a “highly important” feature. 

By checking in often and staying up to date with your customers’ changing family dynamics and needs, you’ll be more likely to develop long-term client relationships, win more listings and ultimately help them find home when they’re motivated to move.


Tech For Real
Estate Heroes

ShowingTime+ digital products and services allow top professionals to stand out from the crowd. Our trusted solutions are designed to propel your success at every client touchpoint in your business. Sign up to receive early access to our latest innovations.

Join Waitlist