Are the boomers staying put?
The baby boom generation, generally considered Americans born after World War II starting in 1946, have been governing our culture for over 60 years. It’s the generation that wore mini-skirts and marched against the Vietnam War; it’s the generation that watched the moon landing and screamed for the Beatles; it’s the best educated generation, and it produced the greatest middle class wealth. But now as the leading edge of this influential generation is starting to think about retirement, the Age of Aquarius may not be as promising as once thought.
At the end of March, population estimates were released by the United States Census Bureau in a variety of areas based on 2009 numbers prior to the official 2010 counts. One of the estimates indicated that older Americans in higher numbers are staying put in big city regions, not retiring and not moving to once popular retirement destinations in the South and West, once again putting the baby boomers in the driver’s seat of our financial recovery.
The census report states that in the next few years, the number of older workers will increase significantly, making up nearly one in four workers as seniors try and compensate for declining home values and decreased stock portfolios. In addition, the population figures show that annual growth of retirement destination counties slipped from 3.1 percent between 2000 and 2007 to 1.7 percent between 2007 and 2009. The lack of growth during these years when baby boomers are either retiring or thinking about it could have a huge negative impact on areas that have traditionally relied upon retirees to boost their real estate market.
Florida, of course, has always been one of the most popular retirement states and is naturally feeling the pinch of a smaller influx of people relocating into the state. Thirty-three of Florida’s 43 retirement communities grew more slowly, while seven others, primarily on the east coast, lost population. Florida’s population, however, did increase by .62 percent between July 2008 and 2009 state-wide.
Manatee County is, never-the-less, managing to keep its head above water. Although population growth is barely measurable at .73 percent from July 2008 to July 2009 and less than 1 percent for three straight years, at least we’re not loosing population.
So, with all of these depressing statistics, why does Anna Maria Island appear to be in the middle of a real estate recovery? Well there certainly are a lot of retirees on the Island, but there are also a lot of non-retirees who are snapping up second homes and investment houses and condos before the prices start to go up, as they undoubted will. Many of these buyers probably are baby boomers, who may not retire for several more years until their investment portfolios get off life support. That doesn’t mean they don’t know the value of a dollar when they see it, not to mention the value of Florida’s still advantageous tax structure.
As an aside, last weekend there was a state-wide real estate open house which was coordinated with the end of the homebuyer tax credit, which is due to expire on April 30. This was the first ever event of this size with Manatee County having an estimate of 300 houses open over the weekend. Although at this writing, I don’t know how many potential buyers took advantage of this event, the organizers, real estate companies and agents that participated should be commended. What a great idea!