“The boomer population has always set the trends, and now they’ve set a course for a more streamlined life,” says Sheryl Connelly, trend analyst and futurist for Ford. “This generation is now trending toward a simpler way of life.”
The National Association of Realtors 2014 Generational Trends Report found that many baby boomers aren’t content to stay put. Some 30% of homebuyers are boomers, about the same percentage as GenY (31%) and GenX (30%) whose families, and incomes, are growing. Another report, The Conference Board’s 2012 Consumer Confidence Survey, found that 29% of Americans ages 50 to 65 say they plan to move in the next five years.
Hearst, vice president and regional manager for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, has not only experienced it firsthand. She calls it one of today’s major trends in real estate.
“I’m seeing many people moving from larger houses to smaller homes that require less maintenance, freeing up their time for other things,” she says. “Or they’re moving from two-story homes to ranch homes in anticipation of what may be down the road.
“I also am seeing many people moving to more urban areas or inner suburban communities from outlying suburbs because they want a walkable community or to live closer to where the action is.”
Judy Hearst calls it her “30-year cleanse.”
That’s what she and her husband, Jack, went through several years ago when they moved to Fox Point from the home in Glendale where they had lived for three decades and raised their children.
“You’re going through everything you’ve accumulated, trying to decide what’s important to take and what you’re never going to use again,” she says.
“In many ways, it represents a time capsule of your life. The sorting and the clearing out can be hard, physical work. And emotional. But for me the challenge was entirely worth it.”
Hearst is a member of the baby boom generation, the 78 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964 who are reaching a turning point. Millions of them are making housing choices that better fit their life going forward, and as a result are going through a downsizing, right-sizing or simplifying process.