Tag Archives: boomers

Aging in Suburbia- Southern Style


Where Boomers live….and drive!

There’s a small table in Chapter 1 of Aging in Suburbia with the  dull title, “Baby Boomer Population by Region”.  The numbers  are from the 2006 US Census,  and would appear, at first glance, to be just another  compilation.

But what pops out is the percentage of Baby Boomers who have settled in the South- The Census counted nearly 37%, a far high percentage than in the Midwest, West, or Northeast. Even with Texas  included, 37% is a remarkably high rate.  Back in the 1990s when the Boomers were nesting (Chapter Two) house prices were lower in the South in the early 1990s than in much of California and the Northeast. Over time, that price gap has only widened.

This has implications down the line for Boomers who plan to retire, and for Millenials who may need to drive them too:

(1) Atlanta and other large Southern cities have fewer transportation options, and many residents in the South are more dependent on their cars.

(2) Neighborhoods in the South are newer and are more spread out, e.g., more suburban sprawl and less ability to walk or bike to the stores and for errands.

(3) If incomes are not growing, and the cost of living is cheaper in the South, staying put makes economic sense

…especially for retirees on fixed incomes.

Horace Greeley said “Go West, Young Man.” The new refrain, “Stay South, Southern Man?”

Boomer vs. Millennial @Home

millennial homes

Where would this sweet young couple, a Millennial buyer, prefer to live? According to realtors interviewed by the SF Chronicle (6/22/14)- it would would not be in the homes of Baby Boomers. “When Baby Boomers looked for a home many dreamed of a white picket fence and asafecommunity to raise a family.” The Millennials? They dream of a home that is move in ready, no  fixers; low maintenance, no green grass; location, location- near public transportation , shops, and proximity to work. With the exception of proximity to work (assuming they retired), it is not clear that the CURRENT preferences of the aging Boomers are all that different.

Location Efficient Mortgage


source: Victoria Transposrtation Policy Institute, 2006


While we are spotlighting the H+T index developed by the Center for Technology, we should also return to a more “homely” instrument used by a few Boomers to buy their first home.

The L.E. M., or location efficient mortgage, was introduced by the Center for Neighborhood Technology and the National Resources Defense Council, and backed  by Fannie Mae (FNMA),circa 1999. One article called it the “Bus-Riders Mortgage”  (Wikipedia). The goal was to let borrowers who lived in an area close to jobs centers and shopping opportunities qualify for a larger mortgage. The intuition was that they could cut down on their transportation costs, which are typically 1/3 of more of the household expense. There were offered in SF, Seattle, Chicago and Los Angeles.

During the housing recession, “exurb” homes did fall in value more than urban properties. The  L.E.M. mortages, although few in number, are thought to have had a lower default rate.

The chart, presented by the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, is from 2006 data. It would be timely to look at the current affordability index.


Measuring House Sales of 55+

This is an interesting idea, excerpted below, from the National Association of Home Builders Site. They are beginning a new index of home sales for the  55+ market.

P.S. What is wrong with this picture?!!



“We are seeing continued improvement in the 55+ housing market because consumers have gained confidence in the economy and are able to sell their current homes and move into a new home or an apartment that fits the lifestyle they desire,” said Robert Karen, chairman of NAHB’s 50+ Housing Council and managing member of the Symphony Development Group. “We expect this optimism from builders and developers to carry on into 2014.”

There are separate 55+ HMIs for two segments of the 55+ housing market: single-family homes and multifamily condominiums. Each 55+ HMI measures builder sentiment based on a survey that asks if current sales, prospective buyer traffic and anticipated six-month sales for that market are good, fair or poor (high, average or low for traffic). An index number below 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as poor than good.