Unlike just 15 years ago, many boomers are discovering that the large, high-end homes with their high-maintenance costs no longer fit their needs as they grow older. Oh, but younger people aren’t buying them.  It wasn’t that long ago when boomer retirees were rushing to buy or build elaborate, five or six-bedroom houses in warm climates, fueled in part by the easy credit of the real estate boom. Many baby boomers poured millions into these spacious homes, planning to live out their golden years in houses with all the bells and whistles.

Tastes—and access to credit—have shifted dramatically since the early 2000s. These days, buyers of all ages eschew the large, ornate houses built in those years in favor of smaller, more modern looking alternatives, and prefer walkable areas to living miles from retail,” according to the Wall Street Journal, March 21, 2019.

The Journal opined that the problem is expected to worsen in the 2020s, as more baby boomers across the country advance into their 70s and 80s, the age group where people typically exit homeownership due to poor health or death. Boomers currently own 32 million homes and account for two out of five or 40% homeowners in the country.

Buyers have been led down the path of focusing on location, interest rates, and inventory.  The most important factor to take into consideration, however, is buying behavior based on age.  Thanks to the U.S. Census Bureau and Dent Research we can see that Americans tend to buy their first house at 31, their largest around 41 and sell those same homes at 79.  Born 1946-1964 boomers turn 55-73 this year.  From 1980 to 2000 40% of all homes purchased in the USA were on lot sizes of a ½ acre to 10 acres, according to Dent Research.  That is a 20 year period, where individual thinking boomers who were doing the same thing at the same time as the age group that couldn’t live without their magnificent McMansions. 

It stands to reason for this observer that current prices are a direct result of 76 million Americans coming into the equation.  It didn’t matter whether the population was legal or ill-legal, legitimate or ill-legitimate.  With all of that demand for housing coming out of the woodwork, home prices must go up.  On the other side of the equation, it becomes reasonable that when boomers who constitute 24% of the U.S. population go to heaven the supply and demand principles come back into play.  When 130 years of residential real estate remains on this earth after 76 million people go to heaven without those McMansions, you tell me where you think prices are headed

From 1929-32 New York real estate declined 69%, wrote Zubin Jelveh, The New Republic, September 8, 2009. That’s the same time that the stock market was off 89%, according to Yahoo Finance. Jelveh went on to say, “A homeowner who would have invested in a house on the eve of the Great Depression would not have recovered the full value of their investment until four decades later,”   If you were an adult in the early 1900s the average age of death was mid-50s, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.  So you died with great regret long before prices fully recovered. Neither of those events could ever happen again right.  Investors understand buy/low, sell high.  The same stock logic applies to all highly appreciated assets.  Savvy investors don’t let emotion dictate their behavior.   Or you can be in the middle the pack or at the back of a herd of cows, where the view and the smell never changes.

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