Baby Boomers and the Housing Market

Well, the front end of the boomer "wave" has turned 60. (I'm the back end of the wave. I turned 46 this year.) That means that many of the boomer generation are considering downsizing and heading into early retirement, if they can afford it. As this big bulge of population enters the "golden" years, we are going to see long-lasting impacts, in the housing sector and elsewhere.

One thing that we are already seeing is the popularity of "adult only" housing developments, that cater to the over-50 crowd. Each community can have its own flavour: some are geared to the active and wealthy retiree; some offer the beauty of nature and small town living; some are aimed at seniors who don't want to leave the big city, but just want smaller digs to live in.

The flood of boomers to resort areas is driving up prices. Prime cottage areas are inhabited year round by retired boomers; frantic seniors trying to get into these areas have inflated prices as a result. In fact, in some resort areas, you can be hard pressed to actually find the traditional cottage; these areas are now full of 4-season homes instead.

Builders are catering to this significant segment of population, with high-end developments that have everything a retiree could want -- including a "no kids" policy. As the population ages, get ready to see more of these kinds of developments as the elderly becomes a much larger percentage of the home-buying public.

I've just seen plans for "multi-use" communities that center on seniors. Builders are creating larger size apartments, in the 1500 to 2000 square foot range, that cater to folks who have had a home and want to get rid of some of the things they've acquired over the years, but aren't looking for a "spartan" a living space. They still want to have their heirlooms around; they just don't want more than 1 or 2 bedrooms.

As someone who is part of the "tail end" of this trend, it will be interesting to see how the first senior boomers will shape the economy.

Michael

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