Baby Boomers Want to Age in Place

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When society and culture shift, often slowly but sometimes rapidly, as in reacting to a global pandemic, these changes impact every area of life, including housing. Almost two years into the COVID-19 pandemic the real estate and housing market has undergone radical changes. Prices soared in some markets, people moved to places that traditionally see little growth in population, and a new trend emerged – Baby Boomers choosing to age-in-place. Rather than downsizing into a condo or moving into a group living situation, Baby Boomers began refusing to give up their larger homes. In actuality, this is a continuation and variation of a pre-pandemic trend that was being documented back in 2018. Pre-pandemic, millennials who could not afford to purchase homes were moving back into the natal fold, or never leaving. Thus, Baby Boomers were already renovating their homes in droves, accommodating these increasingly common inter-generational households, particularly in expensive markets such as Vancouver and Toronto.

Further solidifying the trend of aging-in-place, a 2021 real estate report by Engel and Volkers suggests that the disgrace and tragedy of the assisted living landscape, has made our seniors extremely wary. Today, Baby Boomers are not willing to move into retirement communities or nursing homes. With the bad press Long-Term Care Homes and retirement facilities received during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s easy to understand why. This demographic now wants to avoid these facilities. Recent Statistics Canada data indicates that in 2020, those 65 years and older accounted for 94 % of all COVID-19 deaths. Sadly, watching parents, relatives, or friends become isolated in these facilities, continues to cause a significant impact on this generation and their strong stance to age-in-place. The pandemic’s restrictions and lock-downs has also reportedly made Baby Boomers value their homes much more, including the larger spaces these properties provide.

A 2021 study by Royal LePage found that 52% of Baby Boomers would prefer to renovate their home rather than move. Baby Boomers want to age-in-place, so renovating their properties to meet upcoming age-related needs such as ground-floor bathrooms and step-free access, has become much more important. And they can afford to do so. Baby Boomers often utilize the built-up equity in their homes to renovate. Reverse mortgages are another means available to Baby Boomers that allows them to age-in-place. One Canadian bank that provides reverse mortgages recently stated that they now hold more than $5 billion worth of reverse mortgages. According to NPR, at the end of July 2021, Baby boomers (born between 1946-1964) in the United States held the largest share of real estate wealth – 44% – even though they only represent 28% of the population. Here in Canada this cohort represents more than 20% of Canada’s population. When the time comes, these baby boomers are also now prioritizing the hiring of their own private care as required, to further elongate their time at home. With 75% of this cohort owning their own homes, this new reality will likely impact the real estate market for decades.

Baby boomers will live in retirement longer than any prior generation. If you’re a Baby Boomer who wants to age-in-place and stay in your established community, but don’t think your home is quite right for what the next few decades will bring, there is still opportunity to find another suitable home, rather than going through the pains of an expensive and time-consuming renovation. Speak to an experienced Ross Pavl Elite Group team member today for help.

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