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Old 06-15-2014, 04:50 PM
Location: Boca Raton, FL
5,170 posts, read 8,693,102 times
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Surprise: Baby Boomers aren’t downsizing

Posted: 1:37 p.m. Sunday, June 15, 2014

By Kimberly Miller - Palm Beach Post Staff Writer


Baby Boomers aren’t dashing to downsize, choosing instead to stay in largish single-family homes and defy popular perceptions that their retirement years will include shedding possessions and square feet.

A report released by federal mortgage backer Fannie Mae found that despite retirement and becoming empty-nesters, the proportion of Baby Boomers residing in a single-family home has remained stable and was at least as high in 2012 as at any time since the beginning of the recession.

•Real Time real estate blog

The findings, released Thursday, were reinforced at a Houston conference last week of the National Association of Real Estate Editors, where some housing experts said not only are new homes getting bigger in general, but that retirees want as much home as they had during their child-rearing years.

“They got used to large homes with amenities and aren’t ready to give that up,” said Brad Hunter, chief economist with the Palm Beach Gardens-based Metrostudy, who spoke at the conference. “They have a fair amount of equity in their homes and can leverage it.”

In South Florida, where 55-plus communities are abundant, the lack of boomer downsizing is particularly significant for developers hoping to cash in on the growing market of retirees.

Valencia Cove, a 55-plus community in Boynton Beach, introduced three floor plans when it opened for sales in 2013 that all have more than 3,000 square feet under air conditioning. The homes may be equal to, or slightly smaller, in size to what boomers are leaving, but they’re sure no retirement condo.

“The full time active adult usually opts for a larger home with many upgrades,” said GL Homes Vice President Jill DiDonna. “(The new models) have been very well-received by the move-down, non-seasonal retiree who wants all of the luxury they are used to in a slightly smaller home.”

The baby boom generation — people born between roughly 1946 and 1964 — includes more than 43 million households, according to the US Census Bureau. Of those, 32 million are homeowners.

An estimated 10,000 baby boomers reach retirement age each day, Fannie Mae noted.

“People say they want a small home, but they want a small home with lots and lots of big rooms,” said Will Holder, president of Texas-based Trendmaker Homes, who spoke at the real estate conference. “They are looking for four bedrooms, a study, a game room, a sunroom and three-car garages.”

A census survey of new home construction has shown the size of houses increasing consistently since at least the 1960s when the average home built had 1,500 square feet.

By 2004, the average new home was 2,100 square feet. That grew to 2,598 by 2013.

In Palm Beach County, the average home size in 2007 was 3,128 square feet, according to data collected by Metrostudy. It fell to 2,698 square feet last year but appears to be on the uptick again. A sample of new Palm Beach County homes surveyed this year show an average of 4,188 square feet.

Stan Humphries, the chief economist of Seattle-based Zillow, said home sizes have grown as American’s “privatized” their leisure time.

“Forty years ago, all our social life was outside of the house,” Humphries said. “Now we want to be at home with the family, and we’re seeing media rooms and other areas built for families to be together.”

**Interesting - I'll have to print this and send this to my daughter.
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Old 06-15-2014, 04:54 PM
Location: Pennsylvania
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well, this is one boomer that thinks big houses are more bother than they're worth.
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Old 06-16-2014, 08:18 AM
Location: Tennessee
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A large home itself isn't the problem for a lot of people - it is a large yard and the required upkeep.

My parents bought an older, roughly 4000 sq ft home back in the late 1990s when they were around 40. The lot is about an acre, wooded, and on a hill, and then dad bought the next door lot, for about an acre and a half.

You have to shift your weight around while riding the mower to not roll it, and the areas that have to be push mowed are steep enough to need cleats. Doing all the mowing, weed eating, and blowing off the grass takes at least three hours. Combine with that mulching, landscaping, cleaning up fallen limbs, trimming trees, etc, it is very time consuming, labor intensive, and becoming more difficult as dad ages. A smaller yard would be more than plenty for them now that I'm gone.

Most of the people I know who are entering retirement still want a SFH, but are often scaling back on the stairs and the yard.
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Old 06-16-2014, 08:41 AM
Location: East of Seattle since 1992, originally from SF Bay Area
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We are empty nesters in a 3,000sf 1/3 acre home, about 4-5 years from retiring. Yes, it's bigger than we need now but we get out of town guests, grandchildren sleepovers, and large family gatherings. I still enjoy the yard work, and when we downsize it will be a smaller house with a larger yard. The longer we stay here the more equity (20 years now). We're already close to being able to pay cash for the downsized home in a less expensive area after retirement. If it continues
to appreciate at this rate we'll have more than enough. We paid $190k and it's now worth over $600k.
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Old 06-16-2014, 08:45 AM
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We've been trying to downsize, but it is really difficult to find a 1700 sq ft home or a home with at least 1/2 acre of land.
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Old 06-16-2014, 09:31 AM
Location: Central Texas
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We recently downsized in our mid-60's. We live (and for the past 17 years have lived) in a 1200 sq. ft. house built in the early part of the last century, on 55 acres. We've downsized by selling our 9 head of cattle and will be selling a couple of the horses to make the outdoors more manageable, and transitioning our ag valuation to a wildlife ag (we live on a major migration route).

We have a riding lawn mower, a push lawn mower, and a Kubota tractor that make caring for the outdoors easier. Living where we do, we're used to seeing people in their 80's still working the farm and keeping the house; that makes us feel younger.
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Old 06-16-2014, 09:48 AM
Location: Boca Raton, FL
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Smile Community mentioned in the article

Not sure but I think the HOA does the lawn and outside maintenance. It's a lovely community but just not ready for this (yet).
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Old 06-16-2014, 10:23 AM
Location: Tennessee
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I think a lot of people still want a detached home, but don't want to take care of the yard themselves - at least this is what I've seen through the retirees I know. Many also want one level, and some make adjustments (relocating W/D upstairs, for example) and just stop using the basement. Many like to casually piddle in the yard, but don't want the burden of the weekly mowings. I'm not sure how this gets done (HOA, paying people privately, etc) really makes the difference.
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Old 06-16-2014, 10:29 AM
Location: North Idaho
2,172 posts, read 2,083,015 times
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Sounds familiar. When we retire in a few years we'll be moving from a 2,400 s.f. home to a 3,800 s.f. home, and from a little over an acre to 20 acres.

The home size is a little larger than we would have preferred, but we did want to move to a larger home due to the fact that we're moving from SoCal where you can be outside pretty much any day of the year to north Idaho where we will be enjoying 4 real seasons. If you included our outdoor living spaces in our current home it would be more like 3,000 s.f. We did make sure we bought a home with the master bedroom on the main floor, and it can be made accessible relatively easily. We'll also have space for live in help should that become necessary down the road.

As far as the property goes, the 20 acres is mostly forest, so not too much yard maintenance other then keeping an area near the home clear to mitigate fire hazard.

Most people are healthier and live longer today, and I think that affects people's perspective on what they want to do when they retire. I can see some people going thru 2 phases of retirement, with the downsizing phase happening later in life once age and health issues do impact your ability to do some things. Early in retirement when many people are still active and healthy some people will do what we are planning, which is to spend some time living in an environment that we've always dreamed about but couldn't manage due to career commitments.

All that said, I still carry memories of my grandmother in her 70's on her riding mower, and she managed to have a large and productive vegetable garden every summer in her early 80's. She continues to be my role model for how to age well. My point is that it's not really new that people who are lucky enough to be healthy don't always downsize the way some expect.

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Old 06-16-2014, 10:59 AM
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My boomer parents moved into a much larger home when they retired. They have accumulated so much garbage over the past 20 years they have an entire wing of the lower level filled floor to ceiling with moving boxes that they will never open.
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