Who Will Buy Baby Boomers' Homes?

Real Estate

A recent report from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies forecasts that the remodeling industry will remain robust over the next ten years. The growth will be driven, as ever, by the Baby Boomer generation, 80 percent of whom own homes, and two-thirds of whom have expressed a desire to “age in place.” This means that many of them are modifying their living quarters to include such “universal design” features as wider doors and hallways to accommodate wheelchair use.

Boomers—those born between 1946 and 1964—are a plentiful and relatively affluent lot; they’ve steered economic trends for decades. But as the oldest members of the generation amble into their 70s, housing analysts are wondering who will take up the mantle of remodeling—and home ownership—when they’re gone. Hopes are often pinned on the generation that last year overtook Boomers as the country’s largest: Millennials.

But Millennials are a big question mark. The generation, born between 1985 and 2004 according to Harvard’s Joint Center, has been slower to buy houses than previous ones, including the smaller Generation X. This isn’t from a lack of desire but of affordability, says Abbe Will, a co-author of the report. That could change. “The oldest Millennials will be approaching their mid-40s in another decade,” she says. “We’re looking at the next ten years to see what will happen. Will this group catch up? We don’t know.”

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