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Boomer Trend not Likely to Materialize

So any day now we can expect all those Baby Boomers to evacuate their huge single-family homes and start filling up all those condos, right? That’s been the predicted trend for a few years now, and one that the government and developers have hoped will materialize so that all those empty condo units can finally get scooped up. The bad news is, according to the National Household Survey that was taken last week, that’s not likely going to happen.

There are a number of reasons why Boomers seem so willing to stay put. The first is that there’s a certain lifestyle that comes attached with owning and dwelling in a single-family home. There’s the garden, and the shed, and all the space for Boomers to finally do all those things they’ve looked forward to in their retirement years.

“That generation of Baby Boomers really likes to have the house, the garage, the garden; it keeps them active,” says Miranda McKenna, a realtor with Real Estate Homeward. “For retired people, going into a condo is a nice idea because they don’t have to do anything, but it’s also restrictive. It’s the transition from a bigger house with a yard to a smaller space that gets them.”

Another reason why Boomers are deciding to stay where they are is because 80 per cent of them own those single-family homes outright. And even if they could pay cash for the entire condo, and not take on another mortgage, there are still the condo fees, which are often hundreds of dollars a month and can end up feeling just like another mortgage.

And let’s not forget the fact that being a Boomer doesn’t always mean being alone, even just with your significant other.

“The adult children of Boomers are living at home at about the twice the rate as Baby Boomers themselves when they were that age,” says Phil Soper, president and chief executive of Royal LePage. “They need the space to house not only themselves, but also these boomerang young adults who are living at home and working.”

But what about all theĀ money Boomers could make from the sale of their homes? It turns out, that’s not such a big deal to them either.

“They don’t need the money for retirement right now,” says Soper.

But that doesn’t mean that all those condo units are going to be sitting on the sidelines forever. According to TD economist, Diana Petramala, it only means that we should be looking to another group to fill them.

“Immigration is strong,” she says. “So we do think that these units can, over time, be easily absorbed by increasing demand. Maybe the pattern of immigration is changing…but they are spreading out to areas where there has been more overbuilding, like Calgary, Edmonton, maybe some of the Atlantic provinces,where the resource sector is driving good employment outcomes.”

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