Despite Predictions, Baby Boomers Aren’t Downsizing Yet
July 15, 2014
Baby boomers aren't showing any signs of leaving the single-family home market that has defined their generation's real estate habits, despite many predictions that they would by now. As boomers hit age 65 and become empty nesters, many housing analysts forecasted that a huge wave of them would downsize and move into an apartment, condo, or townhouse.
But Fannie Mae researcher Patrick Simmons says that isn't happening yet.
The Future for Baby Boomers
"There's a perception, particularly in many media reports, that this massive generation born between 1946 and 1964 is altering its housing consumption," Simmons, the director of strategic planning for Fannie Mae’s economic group, told the Chicago Tribune. "It's true that they're becoming empty nesters in droves. But by one measure, the proportion of boomers who live in single-family homes actually increased between 2006 and 2012."
Baby boomers' mobility has gone down. Nine out of 10 boomers surveyed by AARP reported that they wanted to stay in their current home as long as possible. Some may be motivated to stay put because of the housing crisis. For boomers, the value of single-family homes they owned fell by an average of 13 percent. Some boomers could still be underwater and are waiting to recoup more on their house before they sell. Others may be holding on to their home because they snagged a record low mortgage rate in recent years, and they know borrowing won't be any cheaper if they do decide to sell.
Some baby boomers are downsizing but choosing to stay in smaller single-family homes rather than move to a condo or townhome.
But "eventually, boomers will slow down with age and have the same physical frailties that their predecessors had," Simmons told the Tribune. "My sense is that it's not going to be a major shift — something we see in the numbers in a year. It will likely unfold over a decade or more."
Source: “Time to Downsize? Not for Baby Boomers,” Chicago Tribune (July 6, 2014)
Updated: June 22, 2018