The Next Housing Crisis Isn't Far Off

As aging baby boomers enter retirement and seek to downsize from their large single-family homes (the "great senior sell-off") they'll find a housing market increasingly uninterested in what they're selling, says researcher Arthur C. Nelson.
March 5, 2013, 2pm PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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We've heard a lot about the demographic wave (the "Silver Tsunami") that is just beginning to break across the U.S., and emerging trends in retirement preferences. Emily Badger goes one step further, and looks at how these trends will impact the larger housing market - and it's not a pretty picture.

"In the coming years, baby boomers will be moving on (inching further through the python, if you will). 'They will want to sell their homes, and they’re hoping there are people behind them to buy their homes,' says Nelson, director of the Metropolitan Research Center at the University of Utah. He expects that in growing metros like Atlanta and Dallas, those buyers will be waiting. But elsewhere, in shrinking and stagnant cities across the country, the story will be quite different. Nelson calls what’s coming the 'great senior sell-off.' It’ll start sometime later this decade (Nelson is defining baby boomers as those people born between 1946 and 1964). And he predicts that it could cause our next real housing crisis."

“Between changing preferences and declining median household income because of poor education – because we’re not willing to spend money on education,” Nelson says, “that means we can predict the next housing crash, and that’ll be in about 2020.”

"In that environment, he says, there will be two classes of seniors in America: those “aging in place” voluntarily, and those “aging in place” involuntarily because they can’t sell their homes."

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Published on Tuesday, March 5, 2013 in The Atlantic Cities
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