Are Aging Baby Boomers Abandoning the Single-Family Nest?

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FM Commentary

Are Aging Baby Boomers Abandoning the Single-Family Nest?

Patrick Simmons

Popular perception holds that Baby Boomers, members of the massive generation born between 1946 and 1964, have begun to alter their housing consumption as they exit their childrearing years and approach retirement. For example, multiple recent media accounts point to an emerging trend of Boomers “downsizing” from suburban single-family homes to urban multifamily residences as they become “empty nesters.”

A new Housing Insights from Fannie Mae’s Economic & Strategic Research Group shows that one key metric of Baby Boomer housing consumption – the proportion of the population residing in a single-family detached home – has yet to decline despite the major family and labor force transitions experienced by Boomers. In fact, contrary to the downsizing perception, the percent of Boomers residing in single-family detached homes was at least as high in 2012 (the latest year of data available) as at any time since the onset of the housing crisis.

The stability in single-family detached occupancy among Baby Boomers will eventually come to an end, if not by Boomers’ choice, then as a consequence of advancing age or mortality that would make it difficult or impossible to maintain a single-family home. The coming changes in housing consumption of the Boomer generation have potentially far-reaching implications for the U.S. housing market. The housing situation of Boomers bears continued close monitoring, even if some indicators have yet to reveal signs of change.

To learn more about these findings, read our latest Housing Insights.

Patrick Simmons
Director, Strategic Planning
Economic & Strategic Research Group

June 12, 2014

Opinions, analyses, estimates, forecasts, and other views of Fannie Mae's Economic and Strategic Research (ESR) group included in this commentary should not be construed as indicating Fannie Mae's business prospects or expected results, are based on a number of assumptions, and are subject to change without notice. How this information affects Fannie Mae will depend on many factors. Although the ESR group bases its opinions, analyses, estimates, forecasts, and other views on information it considers reliable, it does not guarantee that the information provided in these materials is accurate, current, or suitable for any particular purpose. Changes in the assumptions or the information underlying these views could produce materially different results. The analyses, opinions, estimates, forecasts, and other views published by the ESR group represent the views of that group as of the date indicated and do not necessarily represent the views of Fannie Mae or its management.

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