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Can boomers afford that dream home?

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis March 31, 2014 10:23 AM

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As more and more Baby Boomers head into retirement, they have some very big real estate plans. But whether most boomers can afford to retire in style and live out their sunset years in their ultimate dream home is another question altogether.

More than 70 percent say the home they will retire in will be "the best home in which they have ever lived," a new survey by Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate finds.

Not only that, one in four boomers polled said they plan to buy a vacation home to go alongside that retirement dream house.

Tall order, especially coming out of the worst economic and real estate downturn since the Great Depression.

But as they say in those late-night infomercials, that's not all.

As they prepare for life in their retirement dream home, boomers are also making clear there no plans to bring along that millennial kid or two living in the basement of the family house after college.

More than 83 percent say they don't expect to have other family members moving in, period, whether it's adult children or their fast fading Greatest Generation parents, according to the Better Homes and Gardens survey.

You have to wonder, though, how much of this is simply pure fantasy.

Many baby boomers find themselves in wretched financial shape as those traditional retirment years loom. And for many, the question becomes not whether they can afford their dream home, but whether most can ever stop working.

The median retirement savings for boomers is a relatively modest $120,000, BloombergBusinessweek reports, citing research by the Center for Retirement Research.

That same piece offers a striking contrast between Lee, a semi-impoverished boomer in her early 60s living in the basement of a friend's house on the Cape, and her World War II generation dad, Lew, who is spending his golden years traveling the globe.

Lew did well enough during his working years, but, more importantly for retirement, he enjoyed the benefits of a traditional corporate pension.

His daughter Lee, who started a construction company that eventually went belly-up and later worked in sales, does not have a pension.

In fact, a Gen Xer myself, I can't think of anyone today who has a company pension.

Here's from the Businessweek article:

Many graying boomers are less secure financially and have a lower standard of living than their aged parents. The median net worth for U.S. households headed by people aged 55 to 64 was almost 8 percent lower, at $143,964, than those 75 and older in 2011, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. Boomers lost more than other groups in the stock market and housing bust of 2008, and in the aftermath many also lost their jobs at a critical point in their productive years.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
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About boston real estate now
Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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