Homeownership Rate Depends Heavily on Seniors

June 19, 2018

The majority of homeownership conversations focus on the impact from millennials, but senior citizens may actually have more influence in shaping the future market, according to the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University’s 2018 State of the Nation’s Housing report.


The median age of homeowners is on the rise, increasing from 50 in 1990 to 56 in 2016. Americans over the age of 65 were the only age group who had a higher homeownership rate in 2017 (78.7 percent) than in 1987 (75.4 percent), according to the report. Further, the report states that “the only reason the national [homeownership] rate is near the 1994 level is because older adults now make up such a large share of households.”


Many seniors say they want to stay put in their homes. Eighty-eight percent of seniors said they intend to stay in their current home as they age, according to a 2014 survey. This could create growth in home improvements and renovations that are focused on accessibility and aging while staying in one place. But that also could place more pressure on younger adults to find a home to buy.


Aging baby boomers of 65 and older have grown by more than 7 million households over the past decade. There have been fewer home sales from this demographic than there used to be, which is also contributing to the shortage of existing homes for sale, the report notes.


“Given the size of the baby-boom generation, households headed by persons age 65 and over will continue to grow at an unprecedented pace in the next decade, increasing the presence of older households in both the homeowner and rental markets,” according to the report. “Whether they own or rent, the growing population of older adults will require better access to transportation and support services, adding to the pressures on local governments to expand the supply of good-quality, affordable, and accessible housing.”

Homeownership Rates table

© Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University

The State of the Nation’s Housing 2018,” Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University (June 2018)