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Boomers, Millennials and the McMansions No One Wants


As baby boomers look to downsize out of their suburban McMansions, a generational showdown is looming: Millennials might be coming into their own as the province’s biggest  group of first time home buyers, but they aren’t exactly  lining up with offers in hand for those large, expensive homes in the suburb’s. Instead they're looking for a different kind of home- the same ones, in fact, that the empty nesters are looking to buy.


It’s a battle of the millennials vs. baby boomers playing it out in the province’s suburban housing markets.


Younger and older generations alike are gravitating towards smaller dwellings in more urban, walk able suburbs and towns with restaurants and coffee shops around the corner. It’s leading to a real estate woe: Increasing, boomers are getting stuck, because most can’t buy the home of their dreams until they unload their current ones. And many millennials have neither the desire nor the means to help them out.


There’s no question that millennials are moving to the suburb’s , but their vision of suburban living differs from the sprawling domains of the boomer generation. For one thing, many younger Canadians are reluctant to give up the excitement of urban life to settle down and start having kids. Millennials who plan to buy a home in the future are waiting because they aren’t ready to settle down yet , or another reason being not able to afford to become homeowners and preferring to wait until marriage.

So when they do make that move to the suburbs, millennials often seek more walk able towns that have many of the urban  amenities they're used to like social events , shops and restaurants.  


What’s really attracting millennials are the communities that are bringing the urban flavor out to the non urban towns. They don’t want the traditional massive homes and big yards. They want smaller homes and cools things to do. It’s more important they have proximity to the lifestyle they want.


It’s not just the size of boomers homes that is a turnoff ; it’s also the style. Times and tastes have changed, and today both boomer and millennials are attracted to modern, open floor plans- which aren’t common in the older homes that boomers are hoping to unload. Boomers like the flexibility of these spaces for aging in place , and millennials like the clean design.

While there willing to compromise on size, millennials are less willing to “bite the bullet” on amenities. They want high end finishes, nice counter tops , upscale appliances and luxurious bathrooms.  They will purchase a smaller home with fancier amenities , close to town, rather than square footage.


All of these factors mean that while it’s a seller’s market in many areas, plenty of boomers are having trouble selling their homes. Even if they want these larger home , many millennial buyers simply don’t have the financial means to buy them.


As for generation x , having weathered the Great Recession during what should have been their prime earning years, they now have to save for their kids college expenses, their retirement, and caring for their aging parents. So they’re not likely to trade up from their starter homes. And if they do many prefer an easier to maintain smaller home in community with activities they enjoy- just like those millennials and boomers.


Meanwhile, since the boomers see their home as their nest egg, they’re not all willing to reduce their asking price and shortchange  their retirement accounts, so more of them end up staying put. There certainly was a lot of speculation about what would happen if the boomers tried to sell their houses en masse, and whether that would flood the market  a supply of large homes that the younger population didn’t want - or couldn’t afford to buy. But the boomers do seem to be moving less and aging in place more.





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