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Many Boomers Not Yet Ready to Sell Their Houses

Rather than downsize, they stay put, frustrating home-hunting millennials

Boomer House Sales

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AARP survey found 87 percent of those 65 and older want to age in place.

For years, real estate experts have been predicting that huge numbers of boomers will put their homes on the market as they retire and downsize.

But so far, that hasn’t happened. Instead, amid a slowdown in new home construction, millennials who are home shopping often have limited choices, Bloomberg reports.

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The real estate market is “gridlocked” because not enough older people are selling their homes, Dowell Meyers, a professor of urban planning and demography at the University of Southern California, told Bloomberg. The financial news website described the dilemma of a 23-year-old would-be homebuyer who roamed North Philadelphia on a bicycle, approaching older residents to see if any were willing to sell. He got no takers.

Census data show that about three-quarters of people in the 55-to-64 age group and just under 80 percent of those 65 and older own homes. By contrast, only about 35 percent of people under 35 own homes.

One reason for the shortage of homes for sale is that older Americans — including 87 percent of those 65 and older — want to age in place by modifying their existing homes, according to a 2014 AARP survey. A 2017 Harvard University study found that homeowners 55 and older account for more than half of all remodeling spending.

The spike in boomers selling homes may not occur until the mid-to-late 2020s, Arthur C. Nelson, a professor of urban planning and real estate development at the University of Arizona, told Realtor magazine in April.