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New study finds most boomers staying in homes

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A new Royal LePage report dispels the popular notion most baby boomers are looking to downsize into smaller homes.

The real estate firm said a recent Leger Marketing poll of 1,011 Canadian boomers -- people born between 1947 and 1966 -- found 59.1 per cent of them plan to stay in their current homes.

And of the 40.1 per cent who plan to move, almost half of them (43.5 per cent) said they'll be looking for a home that's similar in size or even bigger than the one they've got.

"This study clearly indicates that contrary to popular belief, most boomers do not intend to downsize any time soon," said Royal LePage Real Estate CEO Phil Soper.

There are a number of reasons for that, he said. For starters, boomers are the wealthiest generation in Canadian history and many of them need lots of room for their many possessions.

"They love their garages and their yards," he said.

Another reason they're still thinking big is they may still have adult children living at home.

Leger Marketing also polled 1,013 Generation Y Canadians -- people born between 1980 and 1994 -- as part of the same survey. It found 33.4 per of the respondents from the Prairie region (Manitoba and Saskatchewan) said they live rent-free because of arrangements with family or friends. In Quebec and Ontario, the totals were 29.7 per cent and 27.2 per cent respectively.

"The adult children of baby boomers aren't going anywhere fast," Soper said. "Good jobs have proven difficult for them to find, they're extending their studies and they're living at home. It's is no wonder the concept of swapping a family-sized home for a small retreat has lost its lustre."

A local spokesman -- Rick Preston, of Royal LePage Dynamic Real Estate Services -- said there's also "the boomerang factor," where children have moved out and then moved back in after losing their job or splitting with a roommate.

Preston also noted younger boomers are still in their late 40s and likely still have school-age children so can't begin to think of downsizing yet.

"They've got a few more years yet before their kids are moving out," he said.

The survey indicates when boomers are ready to sell their family homes, there should be plenty of Gen Y Canadians waiting to scoop them up.

"Like their parents, they dream of owning a lovely house in the suburbs, which provides value as well as access to parkland for children to play and the perception of greater family safety," Soper said.

He said even as condominium living becomes more popular across the country, the demand for traditional single-family homes remains strong.


Here are some of the other highlights from the Royal LePage report on the real estate intentions of baby boomers and Generation Y Canadians:

-- Gen Y homebuyers tend to prefer multi-storey homes over bungalows (50.6 per cent versus 19 per cent).

-- More than half (55.7 per cent) of them plan to buy a home in the suburbs, versus 21.7 per cent who plan to live downtown.

-- Homes with green or energy-efficiency features are more important to baby boomers than to Gen Y buyers -- 27.2 per cent versus 20.2 per cent.

-- However, living close to work is more important to Gen Y buyers than baby boomers -- 47.1 per cent versus 16.7 per cent.

-- Condominiums are a more popular choice with baby boom buyers than Gen Y buyers -- 22.9 per cent versus 15.7 per cent.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 27, 2013 B4

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