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Demographic Challenges and Opportunities for U.S. Housing Markets – 20... Skip to content

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Demographic Challenges and Opportunities for U.S. Housing Markets – 2012


The 65+ population will expand from 13 percent in 2010 to an estimated 20 percent of the national population by 2030. In light of this growing older adult population, and with the majority of older Americans hoping to age in place, this report was created for the Bipartisan Policy Center by authors from the Urban Institute, University of Southern California and the National Associate of Realtors. It discusses the current housing challenges and opportunities in the U.S.

Key Points

This report focuses on six demographic trends regarding housing, which have disrupted previous long-term trends in both demography and housing demand. About a quarter of adults 65 to 74 report vision, hearing, mobility, or personal care difficulty, and over half of older adults 75+ report these types of difficulties. This, in combination with the nearly half of Americans 50+ reporting that their home would probably not be able to accommodate them “very well” as they age, provides a strong backdrop for looking further into the housing needs of older Americans, specifically surrounding affordability and independent living challenges.

Other report highlights include:

  1. Echo Boomers are holding off on purchasing homes, and are either continuing to rent, staying in their parents’ homes, staying with roommates, or doubling up with other families.
  2. All working-age adults, especially minorities, have reduced their rates of homeownership. Home vacancies are higher than they were in 2000, and nearly 10 percent of residential mortgages are in foreclosure or delinquent.
  3. With the growth in the senior population there will be new demands for affordable and accessible housing. Nearly 30 percent of older adult homeowners and 70 percent of older adult renters spend at least 30 percent of their income on housing.
  4. The largest ever generation of seniors will soon start to sell-off current houses that are sometimes in markets where relatively small numbers of young people are ready to become homeowners.

How to Use

This document provides interesting insights for local officials and planners regarding the current U.S. housing market. Specifically focused on the senior population, there is information on federally assisted housing, and the need to increase these available resources because the growth of the older adult population will only further strain the current assisted living housing supply. Lastly, officials and planners should pay attention to the details provided on how public policy and economic conditions will accommodate the transfer of a large share of the housing stock from older generations to younger generations.

View full report: Demographic Challenges and Opportunities for U.S. Housing Markets – 2012 (PDF – 2 MB)

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