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November 20, 2017

The Big Boomer Sell-Off Coming in the 2020s?

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The Big Boomer Sell-Off Coming in the 2020s?

Baby boomers are expected to sell their homes in large numbers over the next decade.

Arthur C. Nelson, a University of Arizona professor, predicts the “great senior sell-off” will occur in the mid to late 2020s. It's a few years later than what Nelson had originally predicted in 2013 (he originally said by 2020). He says baby boomers are living in their homes longer, holding off on selling in the hopes of netting an even higher price later on.

Read more: Help Boomers Start Navigating Retirement

Indeed, homeowners are holding onto their properties significantly longer than they used to—now about nine to 10 years. With ample housing shortages across the country, they are having a tough time finding a replacement home—but they may also be waiting to recover even more in value from what they may have lost in the Great Recession, Nelson notes.

“It’s not that boomers are going to ‘age in place,’” says Nelson. “They’re going to be stuck in place, and they’re going to make the best of it.” He says that those who can afford it will opt to remodel.

But Nelson says it may not be easy for boomers to sell their homes. Millennials—who are largely expected to be the buyers of boomers’ homes—have differing tastes, with more opting to live in central cities or in the oldest, closest suburbs, or they’re showing preferences for smaller homes and not sprawling McMansions in the exurbs. Nelson says the surrounding cities likely will be the toughest for boomers to sell their homes in.

“The boomers in the exurbs are going to be in a real pickle,” says Nelson. “Even in a dynamic market like Washington, D.C., or other booming cities, the market for those homes is going to be soft.”

Exurbs and rural areas may see the biggest fall-out from the boomer/millennial house preference mismatch, says Jennifer Molinsky, a senior research associate at Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.

Nevertheless, “the baby boomers are a large generation,” Molinsky says. “Nothing they do is going to happen en masse.” She also believes that boomers will demand a variety of housing options, which will help spread out sales over the time. Therefore, she doesn’t foresee a sudden glut of housing appearing.

Source: “Who Will Buy Baby Boomers’ Homes?” The Atlantic CityLab (April 14, 2017)