Although seniors appear to be delaying downsizing until later in life, as a group, households 65 and over are still downsizing at roughly the same rate as in years past—which is to say not that often. In 2016, 5.5% of households 65 and over moved, pretty evenly split between moves to single family (2.7%) and multifamily (2.4%) homes. In 2005, these percentages were virtually the same, with 5.5% of senior households moving, including 2.5% into single family and 2.5% into multifamily homes.
Still, because the boomer generation is so much larger than previous generations, that 5.5% moving rate translates into very different raw numbers across the years. There were about 7 million more senior households in 2016 than 2005, meaning 386,000 more senior households moved in 2016.
Of course, the ability of senior households to downsize depends on the availability of homes to downsize into. The acute shortage in starter home inventory can make it difficult for retirees to move to smaller homes. Not only are seniors not responsible for making inventory-scarce metros unaffordable, they’re feeling the inventory pinch themselves. Gen X-ers and millennials, especially in expensive coastal metros, are going to need more than downsizing boomers to alleviate the inventory crunch they are facing.