Trends in Demographics: Navigating Shifts

November 18, 2023 | General

Authored by James Martin, VP of Operations at GoDocs

Chris Porter, Senior VP and Chief Demographer at John Burns Research and Consulting, presented a comprehensive analysis of current demographic trends at the recent NPLA meeting. The analysis included the need to redefine generational classifications, significant housing affordability, and market preference trends, as well as the impact of four major influencers on demographic shifts.

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Demographic Trends

Porter stressed the need to redefine generational classifications, particularly for Boomers, Millennials, and Generation Z. He proposed categorization based on birth decades, including foreign-born individuals, for streamlined decision-making. There is wide debate on the “typical” mainstream-media generation classification (e.g., Boomers, Millennials, Generation Z, etc.); therefore, Porter argues that redefining the generations by decades simplifies critical decision-making for long-term planning and investments for industries such as commercial real estate. Notably, those born between the 1980-1989 and the 1990-1999 categories are now in their prime first-time homebuying years and are driving housing demand, complemented by an upcoming surge from those born in the 2000s. This is juxtaposed to the majority of homeowners in the US, the generations of 1960-1969 and 1970-1979, who stay in their homes longer and restrict the supply. 

Housing Affordability and Market Trends

Affordability disparities across the US, particularly in coastal versus Midwest markets, raise questions about each market’s overpricing ratio. Challenges from a 500-basis point rise in mortgage rates since early 2021 significantly impact for-sale affordability. 

Recent trends show people opting for communal living, smaller spaces, and renting single-family build-to-rent homes — indicating a shift away from traditional large, detached single-family homes. 

Major Demographic Influencers

Porter emphasized the simultaneous impact of four major demographic influencers—government policies, economic conditions, technological advances, and societal changes—over the past three years. 

One-third of recent net US population growth can be attributed to immigration, with demand to enter the US still strong. Despite the working-age population remaining stagnant, immigration will contribute to overall growth over time, which is projected to be true for the upcoming younger generations coming into the workforce. The discussion also highlighted a significant increase in mortgage originations from 2020-2021, accounting for more than half of current mortgages. Job growth has surpassed pre-pandemic levels, and there has been a migration towards the South, which has captured 54% of net household growth from 2010-2020.  

Societal Trends

Exploring societal trends during Covid-19, Porter touched on the small baby bump in 2021, followed by a decline in births. The number of families with children in households has steadily diminished over the last two decades. Additionally, demographic projections foresee a 31% rise in the US 65+ population between 2020-2030. 

However, despite challenges posed by the global pandemic, 2020-2021 witnessed a remarkable surge in household formation due to pent-up demand, government stimulus, labor shortages, and record-low mortgage rates. 


Porter’s presentation highlights the dynamic nature of demographic trends. Recognizing evolving generational classifications, housing affordability’s impact, and major demographic drivers is crucial for industry stakeholders. Embracing adaptability and navigating these complexities strategically positions stakeholders for lasting success in the ever-changing real estate landscape. 

Author Bio:

GoDocs is an innovative leader in automated loan document generation, transforming the commercial lending process. With a fully cloud-based platform, GoDocs provides a flexible digital solution that makes commercial loans more cost-effective to document and faster to close, all while maintaining compliance in all 50 states. GoDocs is a Corporate Member of the NPLA.