Aging in Place Raises Boomer Safety Concerns, Millennial Housing Worries

By Hope Walborn | April 29, 2024 | 3 min. read

Many baby boomers are aging in place in older homes that have not undergone updates or renovations, which may not fare well for millennials and Gen Z looking to buy homes soon, according to Leaf Home’s 2024 Generational Divide in Homeownership Report.

Aging in Place

Aging in place instead of moving in with family, into retirement homes or into assisted living has become a trend with boomers. The report found that 73% of boomer homeowners have lived in their current homes for over a decade, and 55% said they do not have plans to move.

Boomers’ plans to age in their homes may raise several concerns for both them and younger generations looking to buy homes in the near future.

Boomer Lack of Accessibility

For one, 68% of boomers live in older homes built 30 or more years ago, and many have not made improvements since. The report found that the most common updates for boomer-owned homes were replaced large appliances (83%), replaced roofing or siding (77%), replaced furnace or air conditioning (72%), major landscaping/outdoor projects (65%) and major room renovations (61%).

While these updates may add some value once the homes eventually go on the market, some important upgrades have been forgone by the large majority of boomers. Of those surveyed, 62% of boomers said they have never made changes that allow them to stay in their homes for longer, and 75% reported never making safety or accessibility upgrades. This raises some concerns regarding aging in place, as it appears many boomer-owned homes lack the upgrades necessary to keep older residents safe.

To add to the concern, two thirds of boomer homeowners who have lived in their homes for two or more decades do not plan to make any home improvements. For over 70%, changes allowing for longer residence are not in the plans, and over 80% have no plans to add safety or accessibility features. Once boomers retire, they are less likely to move or to undertake any home improvement projects.

Millennial Outlook

In addition to safety concerns, boomers’ plans to age in place have given many non-homeowning millennials a less-than-optimistic outlook on their futures in homeownership. The report found that 31% of millennials agreed that young people have it tougher starting out today than previous generations, with 47% strongly agreeing that low wages have not kept pace with inflated costs of housing. Twenty-two percent agreed that generational inequity is at an all-time high, and 10% agreed that older homeowners should downsize to free up housing for young families.

Once millennials do inherit formerly-baby-boomer-owned homes, worries regarding the age and wear of the homes may arise. Baby boomers will pass down their out-of-date homes, leaving many millennials (and Gen Z) to deal with expensive and extensive repairs and upgrades, further adding to millennial homebuyer pessimism.

“The housing market is caught in a generational tug-of-war,” Leaf Home CEO Jon Bostock told NAR. “Boomers will soon face aging-in-place hurdles, while millennials will face the surprise of homes in need of major updates. With an aging and ignored inventory of homes available in the next decade, we may see a crisis that will overwhelm the home improvement industry and strain the budgets of inheriting millennials, impacting the housing market.”

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