For as long as I can remember, it’s been an unchallenged prediction for real estate—in Chicago and throughout the nation. Sooner or later, the great postwar population bulge known as the “Baby Boomers” will decide in mass to downsize their residences—and when they do, it will have predictable repercussions throughout the housing markets. Smaller Chicago homes should soar in popularity, while larger properties languish—well, at least take a bit longer to sell.
So last week’s Wall Street Journal article scarcely raised an eyebrow. “A Growing Problem in Real Estate: Too Many Too Big Houses” dealt with recent Sunbelt market conditions without suggesting the trends don’t also apply nationally. For sure, Chicago homeowners whose properties fit the article’s focus—“large, high-end homes”—could easily assume the author’s cautionary pronouncements could apply to them. The “deep price cuts” Sunbelt sellers increasingly had to offer were, after all, what has long been predicted. The diagnosis was as expected. “Large, high-maintenance houses no longer fit [boomers’] needs”—and “younger people aren’t buying them.”
As a generalization, it’s hard to argue with the long-standing reasoning. But another truism in real estate is that individual properties are by definition unique—something that’s even more true of those “large, high-end” homes. There is also some contravening evidence. Chicago homeowners will also find reassuring an earlier feature, “Why Many Retirees Are Upsizing Into Larger Homes.”
A Merrill Lynch-Age Wave research team found that 49% of retirees did not downsize in their last move. “In fact, three in ten upsized into a larger home.” The most prevalent reason is one that could resonate with many Chicago retirees: wanting their house to feel like a second home for their children and grandchildren (“especially grandchildren”).
Whether your own leaning is toward upsizing, downsizing, or same-sizing, it’s an individual decision with such far-reaching consequences it’s unlikely to be decided by following to the latest trend. I’m standing by to help you achieve the result you set your sights on.