According to a new survey, approximately 37% of Canadians born between 1946 and 1964 are planning to buy a new home within the next 5 years. Among baby boomers in B.C., townhouses are becoming increasingly as popular as condos.
The survey, released by Royal LePage, also gave a glimpse into the living-at-home-with-parents segment of the population. Approximately 44% of Canadians across the country still have children living at home. Surprising 24% of B.C. residents with kids still living at home don’t expect their children to move out until age 35.
While this may sound shocking in a culture where many young adults were often on their own by age 18 or 19, many B.C. homeowners with kids blame the current unaffordability of B.C. real estate. This prolonged departure from the family nest means baby boomers still require all the space the family-home provides and this delays the transition of larger, family homes from the baby boomer generation to millennials who are just entering or already started their family-of-their-own years. Turns out, when children of baby boomers finally do manage to move out, these baby boomers find themselves with way more living space than they need.
Economically, around 70% of B.C. boomers own their home and 26% have more than half of their retirement funds tied to their home. Only 19% of B.C.’s boomers consider their local housing market to be within their budget, while 37% would prefer to move to a more affordable home.
And this is the dilemma. “One of the main concerns for boomers is where to go when their house gets too big. They just don’t need the space and they don’t need the bills. They want something smaller and more suitable, but where?” says Mustafa Abbasi, president of Zolo Realty. Believe it or not, condos aren’t the solution. As Abbasi explains, “I’ve had many clients that have said they don’t really want to go from a 2,400-square-foot house to a 1,200-square-foot-condo. It’s not downsizing, it’s a complete lifestyle change.”
As a result, transitioning from a house to a townhouse is a simpler transition. Like condos, townhouses offer many of the shared amenity features (including external maintenance staff and funds to pay for the work), but townhomes also offer owners the benefit of their own front door, personal outside space and, typically, a similar set-up to the standard family home, only a bit smaller.
Unfortunately, there simply isn’t enough inventory to cover baby boomer’s increasing demand for townhouses. While there are many townhouse developments going on in B.C., the majority are geared towards first-time owners. Seniors tend to avoid stairs, and prefer to have side-by-side garages. Most new townhouses don’t take those factors into account.
Time will tell whether developers will build townhouses aimed at boomers. If they don’t the demand for these types of townhomes will only increase and this will push prices up, once again.