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Fischer: Boomers’ prolonged homeownership clashing with younger generations

By Jen Fischer - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Jun 21, 2024

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Jen Fischer

Should I stay or should I go? If you know the line from the song of the same title by the English punk rock band the Clash, released on the album "Combat Rock" in 1981, then you will probably be humming that tune for the rest of the day. You're welcome. It's a valid question for many baby boomers right now. The baby boomer generation is defined as the people born between 1946-1964, give or take a few years. For the record, I just barely missed it. That's why I am familiar with the aforementioned famous song by the Clash. Speaking of records, it was a classic on vinyl, released as a double A-sided single alongside "Straight to Hell." I blasted it at full volume for the sole purpose of bugging my Barry Manilow-loving sister.

Circling back to the topic at hand, the classic baby boomers -- likely the same people who still read the newspaper (myself included in this case) -- are apparently the primary reason we have a housing shortage. They (or we) are staying in their homes for longer than anticipated. Many of them are choosing to renovate their current homes and age in place rather than move out and make room for their millennial children (which is also me). Case in point, last week's article referencing our current flooring fiasco.

Yet who could really blame them? More than half of boomers have paid off mortgages and the others likely have a much lower rate and payment than they could currently get. Add that to the fact that there are few single-level, low-maintenance homes to choose from in the current market. If the mortgage is paid and the utilities, taxes and upkeep are reasonable, a guilt trip about housing shortages shouldn't spur a house sale. It is not your responsibility to solve the housing crisis single-handedly.

However, there are instances in which aging in place is not the right move. If retired, and unexpected expenses arise surrounding their current housing situation, it may make it difficult to continue in their current home. Perhaps home improvements are essential for making the home more accessible and easier to navigate as they (we) age. Depending on the cost of such improvements, it may make better sense to find a different living situation.

With the current equity that many boomers have in their homes, they may be able to purchase a smaller house with the cash from the equity, without a mortgage payment. Perhaps it even makes sense to find a home that could produce income to make the payment. Many boomers have chosen to find a home with a basement apartment to either live in themselves or have a tenant or relative live in to help make the mortgage payment.

If you have retirement or investment savings, it may make sense to use that savings to help purchase a new home. After all, the whole point of investing and saving over the years is so you can "afford" to retire and live comfortably. If the current home is draining the savings at an alarming rate, it makes sense to look elsewhere.

However, if, after all of that, the indecision is still bugging you, take some simple advice from the Clash:

"Should I stay or should I go now?

If I go there will be trouble, and if I stay it will be double."

Which would it be for you?

Jen Fischer is an associate broker and Realtor. She can be reached at 801-645-2134 or jen@jen-fischer.com.


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