There was a time when retirement meant a move to a community where all your neighbors belonged to the same generation: Old.
No more. As baby boomers begin to retire, theyre going their own way or ways when it comes to housing choices and relocation strategies.
As they age, boomers are going to be doing a lot of different things, says John McIlwain, who just completed a housing report on the generation for the Urban Land Institute. Theres not going to be just one trend.
That may be especially true in South Florida, where so many residents hail from elsewhere.
South Florida boomers form a lot of different slices, says Michael Greene, a Coldwell Banker broker-associate who has worked in the local market for more than 40 years. Their choices really depend on their particular situation.
McIlwains report, Housing in America The Baby Boomers Turn 65, details how this 78 million-strong generation is creating both challenges and opportunities for the real estate industry. About 10,000 boomers reach Medicare age every day, and the over-65 crowd is predicted to grow 36 percent by the end of this decade, to 54.8 million up from 40 million in 2010. By 2030, the total will top 72 million.
Because there are so many of them, boomers will affect the housing market for a long time. But how is anybodys guess. Some will stay in the homes where they raised their children. Others will downsize. Others may move to be closer to family or reduce housing costs down. And the affluent may buy a second home near the kids while keeping the old homestead.
Whatever they do, two things are important to them, says Ron Shuffield, president of EWM Realtors. I call them the two Cs community and convenience.
Both come at a price, however, that some may be unable to afford after a housing bust and deep recession decimated their net worth. At a time when they should be retiring their mortgages, some boomers find themselves owing more than their homes are worth and unable to sell.
The repercussions of the Great Recession are definitely being felt by the baby boomers, says Jack McCabe, CEO of McCabe Research and Consulting in Deerfield Beach. Some of them took out home equity loans to finance everything from college to renovations, and now theyre finding they just dont have the options they once had.
Numerous studies also show boomers dont have the retirement savings they need; a recent TD Ameritrade survey found that the average boomer is about a half-million dollars short.
This generation has expectations that exceed its wallet, says William Hardin, professor of finance and real estate at Florida International University. The reality is that a lot of boomers are going to be faced with fewer choices.
Even if Florida boomers have accumulated equity in their homes, downsizing may not make economic sense because of the Save Our Homes Amendment to the state constitution. It caps the increase in assessed value of homestead property at 3 percent per year, or the percent change in the Consumer Price Index, whichever is lower. While a 2008 portability law allows homeowners to transfer that accumulated homestead-exemption savings to a new place, those who have been in their homes for decades may end up paying higher taxes for a smaller place assessed at current market value.