Boomers Flock to Rentals, Putting Even More Pressure on the Market

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Why U.S. renters are looking a bit grayer these days, and what it means if you're looking for a new place to live.

Young Americans could be facing some fierce competition in the rental housing market — their grandparents.

A growing number of older Americans are writing rent checks for their housing these days. In fact, the number of renters ages 50 and over increased by a staggering 50 percent between 2005 (10 million) and 2015 (15 million), according to a recent rental housing report from Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.

Currently, the majority of renters in the United States are age 40 or older.

Why the uptick in graying renters? It seems a number of factors may be at play.

The housing collapse in 2008 and the resulting flood of foreclosures soured many people – seniors included – on homeownership, Jon Spader, senior researcher associate at the Joint Center for Housing Studies, told CNN Money.

For other older Americans, especially empty nesters, downsizing from a large home to a smaller rental makes their lives easier in terms of cleaning, maintenance and responsibilities. Says U.S. News & World Report:

The air conditioner isn’t working? Call the landlord or property manager. For seniors who’ve been responsible for house and property maintenance for years, having someone around who can fix a plumbing issue and mow the grass is a huge benefit of renting.

Sometimes seniors are anxious to trade their mortgage for rent because they’re ready to close one chapter and move on to the next chapter in their lives – the golden years.

“They are leaving their homes and renting in much more urban-type settings from the suburbs to be part of the activities and be mixed in with people of all ages,” Tiffany Curry, a real estate agent in Houston, told CNN Money. “It gives them something to do if the kids are gone, or their spouses.”

The homeownership rate in the United States hit its lowest level since 1990 during the first quarter of 2015. Experts at the Urban Institute expect the homeownership rate to continue to decline over the next 15 years. And with the cost of rent skyrocketing in many places and more older Americans entering the already saturated rental market, finding affordable rental housing will likely continue to be a challenge.

Are you an older American renter? Share your experiences below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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