Mar 30, 2024 - Real Estate

Why DMV 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 nearly a quarter of DMV's family-sized homes, 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's happening: Downsizing won't save boomers any money. Tom Gilday has been in his D.C.-area home for 30 years and has no plans to leave — thanks to a low mortgage rate and a recent remodel.

  • He has a design and construction company and says his clients are in the same boat. Most people aren't ready to pay top-dollar for a place half the size, or smaller, than their current pad.

State of play: The problem for younger families is baby boomers don't have much motivation to sell, according to Redfin senior economist Sheharyar Bokhari.

  • Boomers typically have low housing costs, and most of them "are only in their 60s, still young enough that they can take care of themselves and their home without help," Bokhari said in the report.

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

  • Of 1,020 boomers Opendoor surveyed nationwide in January 2024 who plan to sell their home, 85% said they intend to do so in the next three years.

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.

Between the lines: Housing affordability got worse last year. For some millennials in D.C. and many around the country, the only way to buy a house is with family help.

Go deeper: America's homebuyers are getting older


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Washington D.C..

More Washington D.C. stories