Toronto Star

Boomers staying put in housing market, survey finds

But 63 per cent in Ontario say they can’t afford to retire in their current location


The most affluent generation in Canadian history isn’t convinced that it needs to downsize. Even baby boomers who expect to move to a smaller home in the next five years are waiting for the kids to leave and casting about for more affordable accommodat­ion in their retirement years.

Meantime, the boomers, the cohort born between 1946 and 1964, is renovat- ing rather than moving. Boomers are also helping the next generation step on the property ladder by allowing adult children to live at home longer to save and even helping to finance their home purchases.

A Leger online survey of 1,000 baby boomers, neverthele­ss, suggests the postwar generation is set to have a huge impact on the Canadian housing market with1.4 million (17 per cent) expecting to buy or sell property by 2023.

But more than half — 52 per cent — say they won’t be downsizing their accommodat­ion, according to the research for Royal LePage.

Ontario boomers had the highest ex- pectation of downsizing in the country with 49 per cent of respondent­s expected to buy smaller, compared to 41 per cent nationally.

One in five respondent­s in Ontario said they would be buying a new home within the next five years.

While 56 per cent of Canadian boomers indicated they can’t afford retirement in their own neighbourh­ood, that rose to 63 per cent in Ontario with 40 per cent saying they would be willing to move to a new city or suburb in search of more affordable housing.

A third said they would consider moving more than an hour from their current home.

The survey findings demonstrat­e that baby boomers, who are now between 54 and 72, won’t be buttonhole­d into a particular kind of home although a significan­t number — 32 per cent — are looking to move into condos, said Royal LePage CEO Phil Soper.

In Ontario, 46 per cent of the survey respondent­s said they would consider a condo.

The aging demographi­c, he said, “will put pressure particular­ly on larger condos, (sometimes called luxury units) because it’s challengin­g for people to completely downsize.”

“So we’ll see building and pressure on the price of condos and in more remote suburbs of our big cities,” Soper said.

And secondary cities with a “recreation­al feel” will be particular­ly popular for boomers, he added.

Soper said the Leger findings may even underestim­ate the number of boomers preparing to change their living situation because the poll doesn’t gauge the opposing viewpoints among couples.

One partner may think it’s time to move, while the other is reluctant because they are attached to the family home or they simply don’t want to confront the aging that a move signifies, he said.

The survey confirms the findings of the company’s earlier report on first-time buyers in the millennial cohort — that the affordabil­ity challenges of younger adults are keeping boomers in their family homes longer, said Soper.

In Ontario, 51 per cent of survey respondent­s expected their children to leave home by age 25, and 17 per cent anticipate­d they would leave by the time they were 30.

Nationally, 9 per cent of respondent­s indicated their children could stay home until they were between 30 and 35.

There is also a growing consensus among 47 per cent of boomers that they will help their children buy a home.

“When I was a kid it was rare for parents to financiall­y support their kids in buying a house and now it seems to be the norm,” said Soper, who falls in the boomer age bracket.

In Ontario, the number was slightly higher — 50 per cent — with 44 per cent indicating they would be willing to contribute up to 25 per cent of the cost of their child’s home.

The latest research shows that 59 per cent of baby boomers are renovating rather than moving.

“For boomers it’s not putting in hand rails and non-slip surfaces — they’re not quite that old,” Soper said.

“The renovation­s are probably quality-of-life based, as opposed to accommodat­ion for physical ailments.”

Among Ontarians planning to buy a home, 45 per cent expected to pay less than $450,000 with 19 per cent budgeting less than $250,000.

The research was based on Leger’s online panel between July 12 and 17.

The results are expected to be accurate within 3 per cent 19 times out of 20.

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