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Study finds homeowners are living in their homes longer

A brokerage firm reports that aging-in-place may be driving the trend

Photo (c) kali9 - Getty Images
Homeowners are staying in their homes a lot longer than they used to, and aging-in-place may be driving the trend, according to a new report from real estate brokerage company Redfin.

In 2010, the typical homeowner spent eight years in their home before moving on. Nine years later, the Redfin report found that the average homeowner was staying 13 years in one place. The measure of time spent in the median home went up in all 55 metros Redfin studied.

Homeowners have increased the time they remain in their homes the most in Salt Lake City, Houston, Fort Worth, San Antonio, and Dallas, with homeowners in those metros staying in their homes for more than 20 years on average.

"In Dallas, there are many neighborhoods that were built in the 1950s and 1960s where most of today's residents are still the original homeowners," said Dallas Redfin agent Christopher Dillard. "Because prices have been going up, and folks are gaining more and more equity, it's hard to justify selling when there aren't many if any affordable options."

And one reason there aren’t that many affordable options is the fact that people are waiting longer to sell their homes. That has contributed to declining inventory, which has hit first-time buyers especially hard.

Older homeowners are reluctant to move

The report indicates that older homeowners appear especially reluctant to move. Over the years, many local jurisdictions have enacted tax policies that have made it more affordable to retire in place.

In Texas, homeowners over the age of 65 can defer property taxes until their home is sold. According to Redfin, that’s one reason Texas homeowners tend to move the least.

Many baby boomers have expressed a strong desire to “age in place,” staying in their homes instead of moving into assisted living facilities. They’re invested in major renovations, such as enlarged bathrooms with safety features and amenities like walk-in tubs.

That adds to the housing market’s acute shortage of homes. By Freddie Mac’s calculations, homeowners between the ages of 67 and 85 are holding onto their homes longer, creating a shortage of 1.6 million homes for sale.

San Francisco is a case in point

Redfin says the median homeowner in San Francisco, one of the country’s most expensive housing markets, has been in their home for 14 years. Not coincidentally, there are about half as many homes on the market in San Francisco than there were in 2010. That helps make the homes that are on the market a lot more expensive.

Finally, homeowners who live in desirable neighborhoods are less likely to put their homes up for sale. Homes with walkable access to shops and parks are desired by young couples who would like to buy them for the same reason they are valued by the older people who still live in them. They’re convenient and add to their quality of life.

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