For Today’s Home Buyer, Small is Beautiful

No longer is the sprawling luxury home the pinnacle of real estate in the North American market.

As baby boomers look to downsize and homeowners trade luxury for function, there is renewed interest in smaller homes. Eighty percent of 1,300-plus real estate agents surveyed in 2011 said that baby- boomer clients aged 54 to 64 are interested in smaller homes. Saving money and living more simply were among the reasons for the interest.

A recent study showed that the economic downturn has altered the landscape of housing. It predicted that by 2015, homes will be 10% time smaller than the average single-family home in 2010. While homebuyers may be looking for smaller residences, they’re not interested in sacrificing functionality. Instead, they’re trading luxury amenities for practicality. According to architects in a recent survey, buyers are losing interest in spaces such as home theatres and exercise and game rooms and are embracing spaces like home offices and mud rooms. Aging baby boomers will also be looking for features to make their lives safer and more comfortable.

Baby boomers, more than any generation to date, are looking for homes that have been adapted to their needs instead of making the move to retirement homes. The two- or three-storey single-family home may also be on its way out, as boomer homebuyers launch their search for an entirely different type of housing, offering a maintenance-free lifestyle. This important demographic is looking closely at options such as condominium apartments or bungalow communities. Many are also considering rental units.

Boomers aren’t alone in pursuing smaller homes. Young people and immigrants will also continue to drive demand in future.