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MortgageReal Estate

Baby Boomers creating “near-gridlock” by aging in place

Boomers have become "a stick in the spokes" of the housing market, Chicago Tribune says

Baby Boomers, the 75 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964, are clogging up the housing market, according to a Chicago Tribune story last week. 

Instead of moving to retirement communities like many of their parents did when they got older, Baby Boomers are opting to age in place. The “near-gridlock” is keeping about 1.6 million houses off the national market, the Tribune story said, citing a Freddie Mac analysis.

“The boomers are a stick in the spokes of the homeownership cycle, which counts on older people exiting to free up houses that can be resold to first-time buyers, keeping the market moving,” the Tribune story said.

A study released in January by Chase found that 76% of Baby Boomers own their own homes, the story said. About 66% of those homeowners think that home values will soon rise and 88% of them are planning to renovate within the next three years.

Baby Boomers tend to think that if a house has been good enough for them, it should be good enough for the next generation, said Alejandro Trujillo, 33, who has been a Chicago real estate agent for five years. 

“While an older house doesn’t have to be wiped clean of historic details and doused with white paint to appeal to younger buyers — in fact, please leave those historic details intact — boomer owners often overlook functional issues,” the story said.

Trujillo explained: “The conflict is in understanding repairs. A boomer might think that an older electrical service or older plumbing is fine, but to a millennial, that’s flashing dollar signs. They know they’ll have to replace it.”

As Boomers adapt their houses to accommodate them as they age, some lose sight of how the changes affect the market appeal of the property, said Mary Kay Buysse, executive director of the National Association of Senior Move Managers

The association’s members, who consult with senior citizens on downsizing, often find themselves reminding clients that “some adaptations, you’ll have to undo when it’s time to put the house on the market,” she told the Tribune.

An older bathroom retrofitted with grab bars is rarely what Millennials dream of, the Tribune story said. 

“The grandkids don’t want their grandparents’ houses,” said senior move consultant Pat Keplinger. “The kids have their own style.”

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