Will down-sizing Baby Boomers flood the market with single family homes?

Baby boomers may love their roomy, detached homes and don’t appear to be in any rush to give them up for smaller spaces. But when the time eventually comes for them to down-size their digs, the Conference Board of Canada suggests that, despite the growing appeal of smaller units, there won’t be a massive glut of houses on the market.

The boomer class, now aged 46 to 67, makes up about 29 per cent of the country’s population. The younger cohort of boomers makes up the bulk of the demographic and many of them are still living in their single-detached dwellings.

Economist Julie Ades pointed out that a “a sizable share will move into smaller, lower-maintenance homes” and 2011 census data points out that the chances of living in a single-detached home starts declining after the age of 55.

Though 67 per cent of 50 to 54 year olds lived in detached house in 2011, this proportion drops to 59 per cent for the 75 to 79 set.

In other words, it’s expected that down-sizers will take up more smaller units over time, something that’s also happening with a younger demographic too. Between 2001 and 2011, one-person households increased from 25.7 per cent to 27.6 per cent. Canadians who have never been married and are not living in a common-law relationship  increased from 27.6 per cent in 2006 to 28 per cent by 2011. And in 2011, 30.8 per cent of young adults in their 20s were partnered up, down from 32.8 per cent in 2006. Along with younger demographics who are increasingly moving downtown (and into condos), the market for smaller spaces seems to be buoyed by these shifts.

So who will move into the detached houses left empty by down-sizing boomers? Ades believes they’ll become the homes of young families and international immigrants. Plus the supply of homes will fall with lower construction levels and because many may be converted into semi-detached units.

While some pockets of oversupply might remain, they’ll likely be balanced out in most regions, cushioning the impact of the boomer exodus.


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