Will Florida real estate appeal to the next generations?

Budge Huskey

Florida has always proven a desired destination for those entering the next chapter of life, most recently fueled by the number of Baby Boomers reaching retirement age running between 3.5 and 4 million annually. Born from 1946 to 1964, Baby Boomers represent one of the largest generational cohorts with approximately 76 million people representing the wealthiest and, therefore, the most enabled in history.

Florida’s appeal has been undeniable, as evidenced by its consistent ranking in the top-three destination states of all online home searches in the U.S., regardless of age. This isn’t surprising given our state’s weather, lack of state income tax, and attractive lifestyle options. Indeed, Boomers make up 41% of Florida’s homeowners and, as Millennials age and the first Gen Xers approach retirement, the demand for housing in Florida will accelerate.

The demographic shift presents challenges and opportunities to accommodate Boomers’ housing needs and preferences. A 2021 AARP survey found that 77% of Americans over 50 plan to stay in their homes as long as possible, signaling a growing market for home modifications, expansions, and community-based support systems to aid aging in place. This choice to stay put lies heavily in favorable tax laws, current low-rate mortgages, and the desire to remain in familiar communities.

With what is described as “The Great Wealth Transfer,” Baby Boomers are passing an estimated $70 trillion to the next generation. This transfer includes wealth in cash and existing homes bequeathed to relatives.

Logic suggests an enormous lift in real estate demand and opportunities for the state. Yet that assumption implies a consistent perspective on real estate from generation to generation for which evidence may suggest otherwise. Shaped by impressionable events such as the Great Recession and volatility in housing values, Millennials approach real estate with more caution and lower overall expectations, choosing to allocate less in primary residences while diversifying more into other forms of investments.

Also among the distinctions may be desired home size. Boomers own twice as many large homes with three or more bedrooms as Millennials. This trend indicates a potential sharp rise in available larger home inventory as Boomers choose to relocate or pass and a question as to whether the next generation will have a similar appetite to absorb. If not, values may not trend with the overall rate of appreciation seen with smaller homes.

Further, as the top second home market in the country, the shift from one generation to another may also be felt in this housing category. While Baby Boomers viewed second homes as investments for retirement, a place for multigenerational family gatherings, and avenues to legacy building, there is evidence Millennials place greater value on flexibility and the thought of experiences in different locations made possible through renting rather than owning a resort property.

By 2030, all Boomers will be at least 65, presenting Florida’s real estate market with challenges and opportunities. This evolution will influence home sales, new construction development, and community planning across the state. Sheer demographic and wealth statistics strongly suggest Florida will continue to be a winner among states as it relates to real estate.

In the end, it may depend on whether children, despite their initial protests, become more and more like their parents when they age as so often we have discovered.

Budge Huskey is chief executive officer of Premier Sotheby’s International Realty.