Baby boomers choosing to stay in homes instead of sell, downsize; some calling it the 'Silver Tsunami'

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The Triad is an appealing place to live, for people young and old, for several factors.

Access to good healthcare, the climate and availability of affordable real estate are headliners.

But, as the CDC says, the average lifespan for Americans is pushing 79 years old. It means people are not only living longer but also staying active, and in place.

As a result, the Greensboro/High Point/Winston-Salem area is ranked tenth in the nation for what is known as the “Silver Tsunami.”

“You’re probably looking at a few years before we really see the full impact,” said NC Realtors President-Elect Kelly Marks.

Instead of people 60 years and older selling their homes in favor of downsizing or moving to retirement communities, many are choosing to remain in their homes.

In addition, many people who are releasing their homes into the market are choosing to move to the Triad area.

Between 2007 and 2017, approximately 730,000 homes which were previously owned by seniors hit the market every year.

Between 2017 and 2027, that number is expected to rise to 920,000 homes per year. From 2027 to 2037, industry experts project the figure to be around 1.17 million homes a year.

“I don’t know that it’s necessarily a good thing or a bad thing. I think it’s just a matter of fact with people living longer,” Marks said.

In the short term, millennials will be those most affected as they look to buy quality, affordable homes that aren’t being released into the market. The other option is to look for new developments.

“The problem is, there’s no way either nationally or even locally, for new construction to fully tackle the problem,” Marks  said.

As real estate remains affordable in the Triad, rent and home prices in nearby Charlotte and Raleigh remain higher. In turn, even some people who work in Raleigh are choosing to commute instead of live there.

“They’re beginning to move from Raleigh and entering the Alamance County area and eastern Guilford County,” Marks said. “The rents are just very, very expensive in many of the areas that they want to live in.”

Marks says if one of the Triad’s mega sites were to be developed, it would have an impact on jobs and housing for 50 miles in any direction.

“At this point, most of the builders are in Charlotte and Raleigh,” Marks said. “This would give them an excuse to come out.”

What Marks says the Triad is lacking is a self-contained neighborhood or community similar to those which have been built in the Wilmington and Southport area.

A setup of apartments or homes, complete retail and recreation where people could get around on golf carts would be appealing to Silver Tsunamis who don’t know where to go next.

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