Seniors aging in place in Chicago could reshape city’s housing market

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Seniors largely want to remain in their own homes as they get older, and that preference could be remaking the housing market in the city of Chicago, according to a new report.

Construction Coverage, a company that reviews construction software, insurance, and financial products in order to assist property builders, recently released a new report taking a closer look at the divide between baby boomers’ and younger generations’ shares of metropolitan housing markets according to reporting at the Chicago Sun-Times.

“Boomers own 35.6% of Chicago homes amid a housing shortage,” the company said in an email about the report according to the Sun-Times. “First-time home buyers, especially millennials and Gen Xers, are facing an uphill battle when looking for a home, partly because baby boomers […] are planning to stay put.”

Despite owning 35.6% of all homes in the area according to the report, the baby boomer cohort makes up only 19.9% of the total population of the city’s metropolitan population. It also said that while baby boomers make up roughly 20.7% of the national U.S. population, the cohort accounts for 37.8% of all homeowners across the country.

This is despite data that indicates that baby boomers are a less dominant factor in the Chicago housing market when compared to the rest of the nation, the Sun-Times said. In fact, Chicago did not even crack the top 10 of cities with the highest concentration of baby boomers. (The top spot went to Tucson with a concentration of 41.8%).

The columnist speculates that one of the reasons for this could be a higher concentration of multigenerational households in the city, but the aging-in-place preference for older Americans is a well-documented phenomenon based on research from other entities, including AARP.

Older Americans also have historic levels of home equity, according to recent tabulations from the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association (NRMLA) in conjunction with data analytics firm RiskSpan.

The two organizations produce the quarterly Reverse Mortgage Market Index (RMMI) report. The most recent edition from Q3 2023 showed that senior housing wealth grew by an estimated $178.4 billion in Q3 to a record of $13.08 trillion, with older homeowners benefitting from a pandemic-era run-up in home prices.

The RMMI increased precipitously between 2011 and 2021. When it endured a decline in 2011, the collective figure sat at roughly $3 trillion while in Q3 2021, the RMMI index rose by 4%, topping $10 trillion for the first time.

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