Baby boomers – the force behind real estate trends

Karen KesselAdvice, Retirement

103455733-GettyImages-555799019.530x298Like many of my colleagues and friends, I am a baby boomer. We are the pig in the python; by virtue of our massive numbers, we have defined fashion, fitness, consumer goods – and real estate; we have been the tail that wags the dog.

We were born to parents who lived through WWII – about 71 million people in the United States alone! Born between 1945 and 1965, we represent two separate generations with the first group coming of age in the ‘60s and entering retirement age in 2010. The younger generation of boomers came of age in the 1970s with the traditional retirement years of the mid-60s still a decade or so away. Boomers gave birth to the Gen Xers in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s who gave us Gen Ys/Millennials of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s.

The first set of boomers have kids in their 30s and 40s with their kids at the stage of having grandkids placing the first boomers at great-grandparent status. Today, the younger boomers have kids in their 20s and 30s. Some are finishing school while others are giving us our grandkids.

Boomer parents learned to live with less and make it more; they were savers, never knowing when another war might change their lives and way of living forever; they didn’t buy what they didn’t need or what they couldn’t pay for in cash. Putting their kids through school and providing them a life they didn’t have was their battle cry. As a result, they are passing on trillions of dollars in hard-fought investments and savings to their children – the baby-boomers.

The majority of baby-boomers benefit from post-secondary educations with well-paying jobs, nice homes, holidays and travel to exotic locations–with career and retirement-planning always in sight. In contrast to their parents, they enjoy many of these luxuries, purchased on credit, like homes, furnishings and cars. Without boomers, the microwave, VCR and even the sweat suit (gotta wear something comfortable after all those microwave dinners and hours sitting watching videos!) wouldn’t have made the impact they did in the 1980s.

This sets the stage for today’s real estate trends. With more disposable income because of higher incomes plus credit at every turn, holiday properties and travel to time-shares are high on the list of priorities. Main floor bungalow living with guest quarters above or below has been a design trend for almost 20 years. Executive townhomes allow independence and low maintenance without limiting luxury.

With options to holiday and travel, but still wanting to remain close to the kids and grandkids, the condo market is exploding.

The offspring of boomers are travelling further afield for employment, so boomer parents are holding onto homes or choosing condos with additional bedrooms and guest suites for those long-awaited visits. The guest room is a necessity of life in this new millennium.

If you’re located in a city like Guelph with a universities and college, you may be home to the grandkids for a few years while they attend school making guest rooms and renovated basements a common asset.

The condo market offers unique opportunities that address many boomer needs. With little or no maintenance worries, they can lock the door and travel south to join other snowbirds. It also makes it easier to visit their kids and grandkids who are further afield.

While boomers perceive themselves as ageless, it’s a fact of life that it does happen. One-level condo living eliminates stairs.

Fitness and health defined the boomer generation and also gave birth to fitness clubs. Condo developers are not oblivious to this. Well-appointed buildings feature state-of-the-art fitness centres while some include pools and saunas. Condos are located close to Walking trails and recreation areas are popular features.

And the guest room? They are also a popular feature in condominiums along with party rooms so family gatherings will also be a way of life along with a lifestyle that accommodates more life and leisure.