Retirement Home, My Ass – I’m Living In It

Boomer Housing Bust Ain’t Happening Yet – Bloomberg View

Well, think again. According to Jed Kolko, chief economist at Trulia, baby boomers haven’t begun downsizing. In fact, it’s quite the opposite:

Based on the 2013 Current Population Survey’s Annual Social and Economic Supplement (CPS ASEC) — the most recent detailed demographic data available — baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964, which means 50-68 years old in 2014) are less likely than almost any other age group to live in multi-unit buildings as opposed to single-family homes. The only age group less likely to live in multi-unit buildings is 70-74 year-olds, which is the age group that baby boomers will start to enter in the coming years.

In fact, while seniors do eventually start moving into multi-family housing, they do it later, and less often, than you’d think.

My contention is that there are two Boomer “generations:”  Boomer 1, born from 1946-1956 (the progenitors of the Boomer Revolutons (Sex, Drugs, Rock, etc.) who share a common culture that includes things like the Summer of Love, the British Invasion, the Free Speech Movement, and so forth.  There there are the Boomer Twos, born from 1957-1964, who don’t share that culture, but were influenced by their older bothers and sisters.

Boomer One types were raised (as the tree is bent) by the Greatest Generation, the Depression/WWII cohort, and were inculcated with its values, against which many of them rebelled, and rebelled so effectively that their Boomer Two juniors weren’t even aware that such values existed.

I am of that first cohort of Boomers.  I was born in 1946.  I was raised within a cultural framework against which I rebelled in my adolescence and young adulthood, but I was still influenced by it. 

My parents owned two homes over their entire livespan.  The first was a duplex my dad bought when he married my mom.  The second was a classic suburban home, purchased when I was eleven, for better schools and “all the latest stuff.”  They lived there until they died – at least that second home was not put on the market until the occasion of my father’s death.

This wasn’t uncommon.  The notion that you would turn 65, sell your home, and either move to a “retirement community,” or to a “downsized home” was so alien to most of these folks it would have been considered laughable.  And wasteful. 

My generation soaked up some of this attitude too, I think.  The fires of our rebellions died, and in the void, we fell back on first things, learned before our hormones started to go nuts.  The idea that it is “normal” to sell the house you’ve lived in for decades to move to a different, alien place, just when you’ve reached the age where you are supposed to relax and enjoy life is something that has been manufactured by the housing industry, which depends on churn.

Most of the disasters in the housing collapse were caused by people who’d never owned homes before, and fell for the magic of home ownership at any price pushed by the Ruling Class who made the most money out of the thing, both going up and crashing down.

I, for instance, a child of my parents, laughed at the exploding loan the bank tried to sell me on, and settled on a 30 year fixed at 5%, the same sort of loan my dad had on his house.  So while I’ve been underwater, I was never in financial danger – and there is some possibility that I may even surface one of these days.

I think a lot of Boomer Ones are in this situation.  They won’t be selling.  Their kids might, when the ‘rents die, but who knows?  They may want to move up from the basement and fully occupy the family home.

About Bill Quick

I am a small-l libertarian. My primary concern is to increase individual liberty as much as possible in the face of statist efforts to restrict it from both the right and the left. If I had to sum up my beliefs as concisely as possible, I would say, "Stay out of my wallet and my bedroom," "your liberty stops at my nose," and "don't tread on me." I will believe that things are taking a turn for the better in America when married gays are able to, and do, maintain large arsenals of automatic weapons, and tax collectors are, and do, not.


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