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Less housing sales ahead as seniors stay put

Less housing sales ahead as seniors stay put

Forget Florida, moving into a cramped condo or that dreaded retirement residence; a great majority of Canadian Baby Boomers plan to stick it out in their own homes when they retire – even if that means paying for someone to come and take care of them.

A new poll by RBC says more than 80 per cent of retired and non-retired Boomers over age 50 would rather stay put as they age, findings which could have wide-sweeping implications for Canada’s housing market.

The RBC “Retirement Myths & Realities Poll” says 88 per cent of retired Boomers would prefer to stay in their current home and pay for home care as needed, while 83 per cent of those yet to retire feel the same way.

That number rises to 91 per cent for both groups when asked if they would prefer staying in their current home or one nearby near family and friends.

"Remaining in familiar surroundings - in a home of their own, in their current neighbourhood and close to family and friends - is definitely how Canadian Boomers wish to live when future health changes occur," says RBC’s Amalia Costa.

The report reopens the debate over whether more retiring seniors will help increase demand for condos in urban centres across Canada, or who will buy those big homes in smaller towns if Boomers wanted to downsize.

Scotiabank economist Adrienne Warren believes there will be less housing turnover in the coming years as more Boomers decide to stick to their current dwellings into retirement.

“Today’s seniors are healthier, wealthier and living longer than prior generations,” Warren said in a report this spring. “They are increasingly likely to own their own home and to live in their homes for longer.”

According to the Scotiabank report, only about 20 per cent of Canadians aged 65 and over are likely to move in any given 5-year-period. Considering the number of Canadians aged 65 and older is expected to grow to 25 per cent over the next two decades, up from roughly 15 per cent today, that’s a lot of Boomers staying put.

Still, some may not have a choice but to move.

According to the RBC poll, the trigger for retired seniors leaving their home is a change in health (66 per cent), compared to downsizing (57 per cent) or cashing in on the value of their home (36 per cent).

If they became ill, more than half of those surveyed said they would rather live in a retirement residence that provides assisted-living care, while just over 20 per cent would prefer to live with family members that could provide or co-ordinate home care.

The poll comes a few weeks after Statistics Canada reported that more than 2 million Canadians are part of what’s known as the “sandwich generation,” which means caring for aging parents and young children at the same time. That’s 28 per cent of the 8.1 million caregivers in Canada.

RBC did its poll this week to pitch a new online resource for seniors looking at caregiving options.

"Many older retirees want to live as independently as possible despite health changes, but the reality is you may not have that choice," RBC’s Costa says, suggesting people should think about these decisions well before entering their retirement years.

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