July 31, 2020

Aging in place portends "silver tsunami" in housing market

For years it was a portrait of the American dream. Buy or rent a small home when you’re young, trade up to raise a family, then downsize for retirement. But a growing number of baby boomers are choosing to age in place.

Boomers, generally between the ages of 54 and 73, are working longer. About 20% of Americans 65 and older are working or looking for jobs, up from 12.1% in 1996, Labor Department figures show.

With seniors living and working longer, 52% of boomers say they never plan to move from their current home, according to a survey. Moreover, the shortage of less expensive smaller houses available across the country the trade-off becomes even less appealing

Ironically, this penchant for aging in place is likely exacerbating the shortage, as the result is fewer larger homes to choose from for those who might want to move up to the next tier!

Many boomers have finally paid off their mortgages and don’t want to start making house payments again. With seniors' better health, they enjoy having a large house, available for visits from adult children and, eventually, grandchildren. Which of course makes outdoor amenities even more important.

But many experts believe boomers are simply delaying the inevitable. They're predicting as many as 900,000 mid-to-large size houses may hit the market by 2030. This "silver tsunami" couldn't come at a better time.

Even the youngest Millennials, the largest American generation ever, are growing up and forming families. Demand for housing is surging as the oldest are nearing the big 4-0!

Studies show this is an increasingly responsible group, and those with student loans are no worse at managing their debt than people without student loans. However, many in this age bracket still have strong misconceptions about credit scores and down payments, keeping them out of the homeownership game longer than necessary.

It's true, even with great interest rates, higher home prices make it very tough to put extra money aside to make a larger mortgage payment, along with more property taxes and higher utility costs. Prepared buyers also plan for maintenance and "unplanned" expenses, those bills that crop up at the most inopportune moments.

But don't forget - your credit eligibility is based on your entire financial picture - income, assets, debt-to-income ratio, credit history are all part of the equation.

In 2019, the National Association of Realtors found that the average down payment on a house or condo was just 12%. For first-time buyers, that number dropped to 6%. And many people put down much less.

Many federal and state down payment assistance (DPA) programs allow down payments as low as 3%.

And studies show Millennials are finding ways to buy. Since 2014, the millennial share of home purchases has risen from 30% to 37%.