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Baby boomers are not selling off homes, but impacting economy in other ways
Experts predicted that baby boomers would shed ownership of real estate in favor of apartments that others could maintain for them, but it's not happening that way. And they're not following the script in other ways, either. - photo by Lois M Collins
Baby boomers are not leaving the homes they own to settle into apartments, as housing economists had predicted.

A new edition of Fannie Mae Housing Insights says that boomers are not responsible for a recent surge in the apartment market. But when they do finally downsize, the very size of the generation will be enough to "move markets."

Predictions were that boomers, the generation born between 1946 and 1965 (some sources say 1964), would begin downsizing naturally as they became older and more frail. "The research showed that the likelihood of Baby Boomers occupying single-family homes has changed little in recent years, despite the factor that boomers are experiencing major life changes that might be expected to cause a downshift in their housing consumption," the Fannie Mae article said.

Instead, through 2013, boomers had not significantly reduced the rate at which they live in single-family, detached houses, the agency said. And although the number of rooms in those houses has decreased in recent years, "boomer home size has increased since then, suggesting the boomers are not trading down to smaller single-family homes, either."

The article added that the "number of boomer apartment dwellers has not budged in recent years, whereas the number of millennials in multifamily rental units has grown by nearly half a million annually."

That's a significant finding with big implications for the housing market, because "boomers have an enormous residential footprint." Some 40 percent of the nation's homes are occupied by boomers, who have "half of the nation's housing wealth," Fannie Mae said.

As baby boomers move into their retirement years, they're having a major impact in other ways, too.

"After working most of their lives, Baby Boomers want it all in retirement: travel, dining out, owning two cars and multiple homes. And they want to do this off of income generated by their investments," said a recent article in Wall Street Daily. "Yet youd be amazed how many people go to see an advisor with far too little in savings or investments to enjoy that sort of retirement. Even those people who have enough assets often have them allocated extremely poorly."

Some boomers have accumulated no savings for retirement, the article said.

A Huffington Post blog titled "Baby Boomers Still Got Game; Where Does That Leave Gen X and Gen Y?" says that this older generation has created a kind of gray cloud that hovers over the workplace, keeping the youngsters waiting in the wings for their chance to replace the boomers.

"A combination of delayed retirements, improving but still slow job growth, and increasing life expectancy has disrupted the once orderly exodus of older workers and the entrance of younger ones," Ira Wolfe wrote. "A recent report by AARP finds that one-third (33 percent) of older workers are delaying the age at which they expect to retire and nearly half are now planning to work part-time after they reach retirement age. Economist Matthew Rutledge calls this the "'the lump of labor': There's only a certain amount of jobs out there, and if an old person's holding that job that means a young person isn't."

The delicate balance between generations is an international issue. An article in The Independent emphasizes that boomers "are not to blame for wealth inequality across generations." They're not hoarding the goodies.

The article cited the UK Wealth and Assets Survey that shows "that people of working age are those most likely to be wealthy, with two thirds of the richest 10 per cent of households aged between 45 and 64. Only about a quarter of such households are aged 65 or above."
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