July 12, 2024

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Housing market experts split on whether the ‘silver tsunami’ of baby boomer downsizing will happen in 2024

2 min read

This year was a particularly tough one for buyers looking to break into the housing market—and many blame the baby boomers for this year’s low inventory levels, saying that the boomers are holding on to their homes for too long, blocking already-struggling millennials and Gen Zers from homeownership.

But some experts project that downsizing boomers will bring extra inventory to the market starting next year. If true, that would be a major shift, unlocking the greatest portion of housing wealth held by any generation ($18 trillion, according to a Redfin report released in August.)

In early November, Meredith Whitney, deemed the “Oracle of Wall Street” by Bloomberg for accurately predicting the 2008 financial crisis, made the call that a “silver tsunami” of baby boomers would start downsizing in 2024 and 2025. Whitney said 51% of people over the age of 50 are set to downsize to smaller homes, citing an AARP report at a Yahoo Finance Invest Conference. This move would bring more than 30 million housing units to the market. 

“You’ll see a supply-demand dynamic shift,” the founder and CEO of Whitney Advisory Group said, adding that she believes this trend will be “rate agnostic.” In other words, she expects this shift to happen no matter what current market rates are because “older people have lower mortgages, if any mortgage at all.” 

Others believe, however, that the lock-in effect could well deter boomers from moving, as it has for many homeowners in recent years. After all, owners who are locked in at low mortgage rates are unlikely to want to trade up for a rate in the 6.6% to 8% range.

‘Silver tsunami’ will take more than just two years

Not all housing market watchers foresee such a swift and dramatic shift. With the oldest baby boomers just now turning 80, Mark Fleming, chief economist with Fortune 500 financial services company First American, says that it will take much longer than two years for the mass…

Sydney Lake

2023-12-26 06:30:00

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