Utah’s housing shortage: Could baby boomers downsizing be the solution?

Apr 4, 2024, 5:00 AM

Nationally, economists think retiring baby boomers downsizing their homes could be a rapid solution...

Homes in Murray on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024. Nationally, economists think retiring baby boomers downsizing their homes could be a rapid solution to the housing shortage. (Megan Nielsen/Deseret News)

(Megan Nielsen/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Nationally, economists think retiring baby boomers downsizing their homes could be a rapid solution to the housing shortage.

Dejan Eskic with the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute said that’s not the case here in Utah. Baby boomers aren’t downsizing. Part of the reason is we’ve become accustomed to larger houses than we grew up in.

Normally when people retire, they downsize their homes, but Eskic said interest rates and housing prices are helping to keep Utah’s baby boomers from doing that.

“Go into a crowd of people in their 50s and 60s and ask them if they grew up in a house with three or four bedrooms and 2,000 square feet,” Eskic said. “(The) majority of people will raise their hand.”

He said even though boomers might want single-level homes where they don’t have to go up and down stairs, they’re not willing to give up the space they’re used to. Because of this, boomers are not moving out of the houses they already have.

Luckily, according to Eskic, household sizes in Utah are shrinking.

“Building larger homes is not as necessary as it was,” Eskic said. “Traditionally, Utah has large families, but also there’s a lot more people … that have smaller households. So, they don’t need five (or) six bedrooms.”

According to Eskic, Utah will need 150,000 more homes by 2030 to keep up with population projections.

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Utah’s housing shortage: Could baby boomers downsizing be the solution?