Am I contributing to the housing supply shortage by not downsizing? Image

Am I contributing to the housing supply shortage by not downsizing?

By Sam Reiss on Aug 14, 2019

Will aging baby boomers really prevent millennials from moving up and buying single-family homes in Toronto? A new report from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation suggests this will happen. 

Typically, seniors downsize, switch to rental housing, or move to a retirement home or some other sort of adult lifestyle condo community. But, with increasing employment and income among boomers, paired with improved social-support services, more seniors are staying put. In 2015, more than half of men aged 65+ were working, while nearly 40% of women in the same age group were working.  

According to CMHC’s report, 25% of the homes in Toronto were owned by people aged 65+ in 2016. This is 4.5% higher than 2006. The share of townhomes owned by 65+ increased to 17% from 12% over the same period. 

Over the next few years, seniors will make up even more of Toronto’s population. The average yearly population growth for seniors over the next decade is expected to be 4%, so that will bring the share of seniors to 18% by 2026, compared to 14% in 2016.

As a member of the “older” generation, I can say that CMHC’s report is a fair assessment. I still live in my house, I’m healthy enough to drive to appointments, I can receive care at home if I need it, I fortunately have loving family and friends that offer support if needed, and I don’t really have plans to downsize. 

That said, I don’t really think I’m currently taking up a single-family home that a millennial would buy as their first home. If I were to sell today, it would likely be to an established family with younger children, likely in their 40s (maybe Generation X), further along in their careers.

10 years from now when millennials are in their 40s, I might feel different about my living arrangements - same goes for all those currently aged 65+. Yes, we all feel healthy and capable now, but a lot can change over a decade. 

I feel like millennials will continue to flood the condo market, and if the baby boomers are staying put and not downsizing, that’s good for decreased competition in the condo market. Then 10 years from now, I bet a good chunk of those aged 75+ in their single-family homes will be downsizing or moving into retirement communities, and this will free up some properties for millennials. 

Who will buy the condos when millennials are moving up? Generation Z, of course. Real estate is a cycle, population growth is a cycle. Do I feel like I’m contributing to the housing supply shortage by living in my bungalow? Not at all. I’ve lived in small homes, tiny apartments, large homes, cottages, and now I’m enjoying my one-storey detached home. 

When I’m ready to move on, I hope a happy family discovers my little bungalow and decides to call it home - but until then, I’ll continue to enjoy my home guilt free! 

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