JUST PLAIN TALK: Housing ’Boomer Bubble’ could be coming

Buz Livingston
Buz Livingston

Housing prices depend on demand and supply. Evidence shows a “Boomer Bubble” in housing exists, and one in eight owner-occupied homes in the U.S. will be up for sale over the next decade as seniors die, move in with their children, or move to assisted living facilities. Some areas will see a more dramatic spike. Projections for greater Delray Beach, Florida,, located between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, indicate almost one-third of homes will be on the market in the next 10 years. Nationwide, in less than 20 years, 25% of households will similarly be vacated by seniors.

Coupled with a looming glut of homes is potentially lower demand. Post-Boomer generations aren’t as financially secure. Pensions are scarce for the younger Boomers and practically non-existent for those born later. Americans are suffering from stagnant income growth and are likely to be burdened by debt. Nationwide, there could be a mismatch between where homes are available and locations that younger Americans want to live. The demand for age-restricted communities could decline since there is less interest in them.

Older homes often lack features buyers want. Richard Quinn shared his fruitless attempt to downsize to a condo on his blog, QuinnsCommentary.com. After a year on the market, Quinn has exactly zero offers. For starters, buyers find the kitchen too small, which is ironic since only one-third of Americans cook and eat at home daily. Another drawback was the lack of first floor toilet facilities. Quinn should have upgraded; our family didn’t have a first floor bathroom either, but after after a few years mama ended that.

While demand for homes in Walton County continues to be strong, Florida’s geography makes us almost a hurricane magnet. Climate change models show the likelihood of more frequent and stronger storms as the Atlantic Basin and Gulf water temperatures increase. Rising insurance premiums for wind coverage could be a damper. Larger homes, currently in demand, require higher premiums. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) subsidizes local real estate. It’s a form of socialism whether you choose to admit it or not. To pay for Hurricanes Maria, Harvey and Irma, Congress canceled $16 billion of NFIP debt two years ago. In addition to higher windstorm premiums, flood insurance premiums will almost assuredly spike upward. It’s not inconceivable to see buyers shrink away from ownership with overhead costs rising.

Tourism and real estate drive Walton County’s economy and will continue for the foreseeable future. But like an investment portfolio, an economy benefits from diversification. Opening an industrial park close to I-10 will bring additional jobs. One hundred years ago, the naval stores industry, turpentine, was South Walton’s prime economic driver. No one thought it would end either, but all that is left are shards of Herty cups and scars on pine trees from gum harvesting, aka, “catfaces.”

You can’t always get what you want, but Buz Livingston, CFP can help you figure out what you need. For specific advice, visit livingstonfinancial.net or drop by 2050 West County Highway 30A, M1 Suite 230.