If you’re trying to buy a home for your growing family but find that the pickings are slim, now you’ve got someone to blame: baby boomers. The Washington Post recently blasted this age group for clogging up the real estate pipeline. Apparently, experts say they should be downsizing into smaller homes now that their kids have flown the coop—but these empty nesters just aren’t budging.  “They appear to be staying in the family home longer than previous generations,” Sean Becketti, chief economist of Freddie Mac, told the Post. And this, he says, has created an “imbalance between housing demand and supply.”

In other words, demand for single-family homes is high among young couples who are popping out kids and need some extra bedrooms—but until boomers move out, supply will remain scarce and steeply priced.
Why are boomers lingering in their oversize homes? The chief economist here at realtor.com®, Jonathan Smoke, theorizes that the whole idea of downsizing may be outdated.
Boomers “have a wide range of desires and circumstances, so some are buying second homes and some are upsizing to their ultimate dream homes,” Smoke says.
Some may want to downsize, but they just don’t see any options that catch their eye.
“For some, it could be a lack of suitable alternatives,” explains Wendy Flynn, a Realtor® in College Station, TX. “Smaller housing options are often targeted to first-time buyers and young families. Meanwhile, age-restricted communities are often quite pricey.”
As a result, she says, “I’ve observed a lot of indecision in boomer clients who can’t decide if now is the right time for them to make a move.”
But experts also say this boomer logjam in the housing market can’t last forever. In fact, Smoke says, “we are forecasting supply to be better in 2016, with a combination of more existing home owners encouraged to sell, and because of increasing single-family construction. As a result, [families] should have a better chance of finding a home that meets their needs compared to this year.”
And once boomers do decide it’s time to downsize in droves, “we’d see values on those larger homes drop as a result of the increased supply,” says Flynn. But until that happens, there are still things families can do to score a home in a tight market.
“Buyers who seek to buy these kinds of properties need a Realtor who has an aggressive style to seek out pocket listings, or who is even willing to door-knock in neighborhoods to identify a boomer who may be willing to sell,” says Flynn.
And boomers who do decide to downsize soon stand to benefit as well.
“2016 will be a perfect year to sell in most markets, because price appreciation is now slowing but mortgage rates are expected to rise,” says Smoke. “So waiting will not produce as much gains.”