It's difficult today to speak of real estate trends without touching on the effect Baby Boomers have on the buy and sell cycle. In many ways, it's a new world, and changing rapidly. The current crop of "aging hippies" may be influencing real estate more than anyone knows. According to a builder survey, fully one third of the generation at or nearing traditional retirement age today and in the next few years plans to move to a new residence during retirement.
There are economic reasons for it, and the best reason, of course, is that the equity many owners have in their homes will not only pay for a downsized "nest" in a new area, but will provide a substantial nest egg for investment or travel, or for starting a new business.
Starting a new business is another reason many Boomers are selling out, packing up and moving on. The trend points to resettling in small town U.S.A., or to embracing a trendy lifestyle in a downtown condo or live-work setting previously thought to be the domain of young singles. Today's senior citizens are not looking forward to a "do-nothing" lifestyle. They are healthy and physically fit, interested in art, culture, business and life, and they want to live in interesting places.
While Northern winters are the number one reason for moving south, the traditional retirement communities of Florida and Arizona have slipped in popularity, with other, moderate climate locations around the country seeing increased growth. College towns, in particular, seem to be favored by the young seniors.
The appeal of entrepreneurship, turning a long-standing interest or hobby into a business enterprise, consulting, travel, and even teaching, mentoring or volunteer work are attractive to this generation. Also important is a vibrant community, and quality medical care.
The economy of the past five years has also taken a toll on the plans and expectations of this group. Even those who had amassed healthy portfolios admit to suffering financial loss during the ongoing recession; current real estate recovery is a welcome relief for this group. Even so, they are not eager to act too quickly, and may prefer to exercise extreme caution before placing a home on the market, or accepting a preliminary offer.
When the time comes to purchase a new residence, these same people will likely be cautious as well, weighing their options carefully before making a decision.