Downsizing Baby Boomers Means Big Boom for Multifamily



The Baby Boomers are about to boom again. The free-spirited Post World War II class that rocked to Bob Dylan, claimed a transistor radio as a personal identity long before smart phones, and chased sushi with shots of designer vodka is now older and getting charged to make a comeback.

And it’s coming quick.

Baby Boomers Downsizing into Apartments

With many of them now empty nesters, Baby Boomers are primed to downsize from their sprawling suburban homes and seek apartments, beginning this year. And the multifamily housing industry had better be ready and have plenty of room available, say some apartment industry insiders.

At a time when developers are drawing blueprints with the younger generation in mind, meeting the demands of Baby Boomers who have a lot of stuff may be a bit of conundrum. And how will communal gathering areas designed for Internet chats measure up to more traditional living spaces?

The once tried and true strategy of offering a cookie-cutter balance of two-bedrooms, one-bedrooms and studio apartments will have to come under close scrutiny.

“It’s an interesting dilemma isn’t it?” says National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) President Doug Bibby. “I think what it talks to is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution, and that you have to have different housing options available to the different populations. What I’ve been saying consistently along the line is we’re going to have to have a greater diversity of products types and more creativity into the configurations of units depending on the populations that you’re trying to attract.”

That could mean that the face of the properties could change along with the shift in apartment demand that points to those born between 1946 and 1964.

Boomers Responsible for 60% of Renter Increase by 2023

In a report issued by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City by economist Jordan Rappaport, “the longer term outlook is especially positive for multifamily construction, reflecting the aging of the baby boomers and an associated shift in demand from single-family to multifamily housing.”

He says that movement from single-family to multifamily housing could create a geographic shift from suburban living to city living, and that suburbs may need to consider rezoning alternatives to encourage multifamily reconstruction.

In a study last year, NMHC projected an increase in the number of older apartment renters. While most renters won’t fall into the Boomer category, those 65 and older will account for almost 60 percent of the increase in apartment renters by 2023. In the past 10 years, just more than half the increase came in the 45-54 and 55-64 age groups, the report says.

The younger demographic will continue to fuel demand for apartments, but don’t forget the Baby Boomers.


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