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Baby Boomer-Dominant Housing Markets

Homeownership has long been considered part of the American dream. But first-time home buyers, especially millennials and Gen Xers, are facing an uphill battle when it comes to house hunting. This is in part because of a growing trend in which baby boomers, the generation that owns the largest share of American homes, are planning to stay put. In fact, a 2018 survey conducted by AARP found that 76 percent of Americans over the age of 50 would prefer to remain in their current home—rather than move in with family, to a nursing home, or to an assisted living facility—which is leading to less inventory for new buyers.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the share of homeowners over the age of 55 has been steadily increasing. In 2008, at the onset of the Great Recession, Americans over the age of 55 owned 44.3 percent of homes. By 2019, that percentage had increased to 53.8 percent. While the share of homeowners under the age of 35 remained fairly steady within the same time span, the share of homeowners between the ages of 35 and 54 decreased from 42.3 percent to 34.1 percent.

Chart1 Baby boomers own a majority of U.S. homes

While baby boomers—defined here as Americans between the ages of 55 and 74—comprise just over 22 percent of the U.S. population, they account for nearly 42 percent of homeowners nationwide. Notably, baby boomers dominate the housing market in many coastal states, such as Maine (45.3 percent), Delaware (45.2 percent), New Hampshire (44.9 percent), Florida (44.6 percent), and Rhode Island (44.3 percent). By contrast, Midwestern states are more likely to have fewer baby boomer homeowners, including Minnesota (39.5 percent), Iowa (39.4 percent), Nebraska (38.7 percent), and North Dakota (38.5 percent). Across all states, baby boomers in Utah account for the lowest share of homeowners at just 34.0 percent.

Chart2 Baby boomers dominate the housing market in coastal states

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To find which cities have the highest share of baby boomer homeowners, researchers at Construction Coverage, a review website for construction project management software and builders insurance, analyzed homeownership and demographic data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Researchers also referenced the Zillow Home Value Index to find each city’s median home price, compared to the national median of $256,663. They ranked the cities by the share of owner-occupied housing units owned by baby boomers.

To improve relevance, the cities were also categorized into three groups by population: small (100,000–149,999), midsize (150,000–349,999), and large (350,000 or more). Here are the cities with the most baby boomer-owned homes.

Chart3 Small midsize cities with the most baby boomer owned homes

Large Cities With the Most Baby Boomer-Owned Homes

15 California Los Angeles Santa Monica CTT06K
Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

15. Los Angeles, CA

  • Percentage of homeowners that are baby boomers: 40.9%
  • Baby boomer population share: 18.3%
  • Number of baby boomer-owned households: 208,864
  • Number of baby boomer-rented households: 193,372
  • Median home price: $764,528

14 Colorado Colorado Springs F7E2CN
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14. Colorado Springs, CO

  • Percentage of homeowners that are baby boomers: 41.0%
  • Baby boomer population share: 20.7%
  • Number of baby boomer-owned households: 46,410
  • Number of baby boomer-rented households: 12,742
  • Median home price: $339,146

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13 Michigan Detroit M964DD
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13. Detroit, MI

  • Percentage of homeowners that are baby boomers: 41.0%
  • Baby boomer population share: 20.5%
  • Number of baby boomer-owned households: 52,390
  • Number of baby boomer-rented households: 38,456
  • Median home price: $38,721

12 Texas Arlington FCX5X5
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12. Arlington, TX

  • Percentage of homeowners that are baby boomers: 41.1%
  • Baby boomer population share: 18.5%
  • Number of baby boomer-owned households: 30,836
  • Number of baby boomer-rented households: 10,571
  • Median home price: $225,334

11 Oklahoma Tulsa JB6EKD
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11. Tulsa, OK

  • Percentage of homeowners that are baby boomers: 41.9%
  • Baby boomer population share: 20.8%
  • Number of baby boomer-owned households: 35,320
  • Number of baby boomer-rented households: 17,372
  • Median home price: $135,661

10 Arizona Tucson J32BMW
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10. Tucson, AZ

  • Percentage of homeowners that are baby boomers: 41.9%
  • Baby boomer population share: 19.9%
  • Number of baby boomer-owned households: 45,064
  • Number of baby boomer-rented households: 24,284
  • Median home price: $224,852

09 California San Diego E18BY4
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9. San Diego, CA

  • Percentage of homeowners that are baby boomers: 42.0%
  • Baby boomer population share: 18.8%
  • Number of baby boomer-owned households: 100,112
  • Number of baby boomer-rented households: 49,943
  • Median home price: $695,184

08 Kentucky Louisville HW81JR
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8. Louisville, KY

  • Percentage of homeowners that are baby boomers: 42.2%
  • Baby boomer population share: 23.1%
  • Number of baby boomer-owned households: 63,569
  • Number of baby boomer-rented households: 25,160
  • Median home price: $186,692

07 California Anaheim K0K3XM
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7. Anaheim, CA

  • Percentage of homeowners that are baby boomers: 42.3%
  • Baby boomer population share: 18.6%
  • Number of baby boomer-owned households: 20,537
  • Number of baby boomer-rented households: 11,203
  • Median home price: $655,039

06 New York New York DBC699
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6. New York, NY

  • Percentage of homeowners that are baby boomers: 43.5%
  • Baby boomer population share: 20.6%
  • Number of baby boomer-owned households: 445,328
  • Number of baby boomer-rented households: 585,556
  • Median home price: $654,683

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05 Florida Jacksonville HT5T6T
Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

5. Jacksonville, FL

  • Percentage of homeowners that are baby boomers: 43.6%
  • Baby boomer population share: 21.4%
  • Number of baby boomer-owned households: 86,212
  • Number of baby boomer-rented households: 27,981
  • Median home price: $202,568

04 California Long Beach FTD9AP
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4. Long Beach, CA

  • Percentage of homeowners that are baby boomers: 44.2%
  • Baby boomer population share: 19.7%
  • Number of baby boomer-owned households: 28,711
  • Number of baby boomer-rented households: 21,523
  • Median home price: $635,289

03 Ohio Cleveland PAYXX0
Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

3. Cleveland, OH

  • Percentage of homeowners that are baby boomers: 45.3%
  • Baby boomer population share: 22.1%
  • Number of baby boomer-owned households: 31,148
  • Number of baby boomer-rented households: 28,542
  • Median home price: $74,946

02 Louisiana New Orleans JEFXJ5
Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

2. New Orleans, LA

  • Percentage of homeowners that are baby boomers: 45.6%
  • Baby boomer population share: 22.9%
  • Number of baby boomer-owned households: 34,324
  • Number of baby boomer-rented households: 21,404
  • Median home price: $234,036

01 Tennessee Memphis KXW7P6
Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

1. Memphis, TN

  • Percentage of homeowners that are baby boomers: 46.4%
  • Baby boomer population share: 20.7%
  • Number of baby boomer-owned households: 54,770
  • Number of baby boomer-rented households: 29,677
  • Median home price: $103,289

Methodology & Detailed Findings

The homeownership and population data used in this analysis is from the U.S. Census Bureau 2019 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates. Home prices are from the Zillow Home Value Index.

For the purpose of this analysis, baby boomers are defined as individuals between the ages of 55 and 74 in 2019. The percentage of homeowners that are baby boomers is the number of owner-occupied housing units headed by a baby boomer divided by the total number of owner-occupied housing units. The baby boomer population share is the total number of baby boomers divided by the total population.

To improve relevance only cities with at least 100,000 residents were included. Additionally, cities were grouped into cohorts based on population: small (100,000–149,999), midsize (150,000–349,999), and large (350,000 or more).

With mortgage rates at historic lows and housing starts once again on the rise after a decline at the onset of COVID-19, housing may become more accessible for younger buyers. In addition, as baby boomers age and eventually downsize—often moving into communities built specifically for retirees—the share of housing units owned by each generation will shift in the coming years.

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