Baby Boomers Breaking the Mold

by Peter Thomas Ricci


Downsizing is a natural progression in housing we’ve come to expect of older generations, such as the aging Baby Boomers, whose preference for high square footage is diminishing as their children leave the nest and retirement sets in. But are we mistaken in our habitual assumption that older generations are leaving behind single-family homes for multifamily housing?

The Baby Boomer generation occupies over a quarter of the nation’s housing inventory, inhabiting 32 million detached single-family homes, according to Fannie Mae’s Housing Insights report. While the average number of rooms within these Boomer households has declined slightly in previous years, the number increased to seven across the entire generation between 2011 and 2013, according the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2014 American Community Survey.

Additionally, looking at both Boomers’ per-capita and per-household single-family occupancy rates, there is no statistical difference in 2013 from one and seven years prior, suggesting stable single-family home ownership.

The increase in number of rooms and the generation’s stable single-family occupancy through 2013 are two of three factors that suggest we live in an era where the prevalence of downsizing has decreased and the trend reserved for later in life. 

A third factor indicative of a decrease in downsizing amongst older generations is apartment demand. The 2013 Current Population Survey’s Annual Social and Economic Supplement (CPS ASEC) found that Baby Boomers are not a major contributor to the growth in apartment demand, as the generation is the second least likely to live in multifami

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