Are Aging Baby Boomers Abandoning the Single-Family Nest?
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.
Director, Strategic Planning
Economic & Strategic Research Group
June 12, 2014
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