Mar 30, 2024 - Real Estate

Why some Twin Cities boomers won't sell their big houses

Share of ownership of large homes by generation and market
Data: Redfin; Chart: Axios Visuals

Empty nesters are locking up family-size homes in the Twin Cities, according to a recent Redfin report.

Why it matters: "OK Boomer" might sting more when it comes from millennials eyeing the keys to your three-bedroom house.

What they're saying: Bill Gafford and his wife plan to stay in their five-bedroom Chaska home for the next five to 10 years, until they move to a senior living development.

  • "We are still very active and don't mind doing the maintenance and yard work," says Gafford, who tells Axios the house they've lived in for nearly three decades is paid off and completely remodeled.

The other side: Searching since 2021 for something more spacious than their Prior Lake townhome, Tailyr Klug and her husband recently moved two hours south to raise their two children.

  • The couple bought a three-bedroom house in Jackson "after being outbid and only finding unaffordable options."

State of play: While the Twin Cities has the second-highest share of large homes owned by millennials in the country, it's still only a paltry 17%, per Redfin.

Yes, but: The problem for many younger families is baby boomers don't have much motivation to sell, partly because they typically have low housing costs, according to Redfin senior economist Sheharyar Bokhari.

The big picture: Homeowners nationally are holding on to their homes nearly twice as long as they did in 2005, Redfin research shows.

  • Many of those staying put are aging in place. Most baby boomers who own houses are mortgage-free or have a low interest rate, according to the brokerage.

Reality check: Seniors are still downsizing, sometimes to luxury apartments.

  • Of 1,020 boomers Opendoor surveyed nationwide who plan to sell their home, 85% said they intend to do so in the next three years.

Downsizers Margaret and Dennis Klis sold their Tangletown home four years ago to their millennial daughter and her husband, who have three kids, two cars and two dogs.

  • "Had we tried to pull this off now, with the higher interest rates, they could have never afforded to buy that house," Klis says of her daughter and son-in-law.

Between the lines: Homeownership has only gotten costlier. For some millennials in the Twin Cities and many around the country, the only way to buy a house is with family help.

What's next: Many young families are renting single-family houses.

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