Second and Vacation Homes: Coldwell Banker Survey Says One Home is Never Enough With Baby Boomers — And It’s Way Cheaper than a Divorce!

(Above) John Raymond’s Cheese at Calistoga Ranch

There has been a lot of chatter out that the Baby Boomers might be the last generation to embrace home ownership. Well, a new study now says what I have long suspected: with Baby Boomers, one is never enough. The Millenials and offspring of the Baby Boomers tend to want smaller homes and fewer of them. This generation is also more likely to rent. But a new survey of Realtors acros the nation by Coldwell Banker tells me exactly what I am seeing happening among Baby Boomer peers: those in the 47 to 64 age bracket are delaying the sale of their large family homes, due to the sputtering market, and investing in second homes that may ultimately become retirement pads or family vacation spots.

Of course, I think many have ulterior motives. I know some couples who find buying a second home a far better investment than a divorce, which financial experts say can wipe out the average or above average couple’s retirement savings.

Rather than divorce, the better option at this age, says Lisa Marie Vari, a divorce attorney with offices in Pittsburgh and Miami, is to live in separate houses and come up with a separation agreement. It’s not as catastrophic on the finances, she says.

Far smarter to lead separate lives in two separate homes and save on costly attorneys fees, not to mention forced sales of properties and dividing assets.

There is, however, a well-known couple in Dallas who sold their Colorado vacation home lickety split (and at a loss) when the wife found out that while she was in Colorado with the children, her husband was doing some “extra-curricular work” at home with a neighbor. God bless the sophisticated housekeeper who had a i-phone!

Coldwell Banker found 87 percent of Realtor respondents said they have Baby Boomer clients who already own or are looking to own an investment property. Twenty-two ( 22) percent of agents report that at least half (50 percent) of their boomer clients either already own or are looking to own such properties.

In Calistoga, CA this weekend I met a delightful gourmet cheesemaker (John Raymond Cheese Company — the man actually looks into the eyes of the cows that produce his cheese) who tells me second homes are the bane of his existence: it is very difficult to ship perishables to clients who constantly move from one home to another. John Raymond told me that 90% of his clients have second homes.

Here’s what Baby Boomers say they want in second homes:

-More than one-third of Boomers aged 47 to 55 to want to purchase second homes.

-22 percent say older baby boomers (ages 56-64) are interested in purchasing a second home

- Homes getting smaller? That will be the day I quit bleaching my hair and waxing. 31 percent of respondents say that younger baby boomer clients are selling their current home and looking for a larger one.

-80 percent of agents say that older baby boomers are more likely to want to downsize than younger baby boomers (52 percent).  Although the economy has impacted boomers, the reason for downsizing is not only about the desire to save money. According to the survey, 49 percent of agents say the primary reason boomers want to downsize is because they desire a simpler lifestyle (AMEN!), while only 28 percent said the leading reason boomers are downsizing is to save money.

-Younger baby boomers are much more likely to prefer a single family home than older baby boomers (82 vs. 47 percent of agents agree). I know from my research they want these homes to enjoy family experiences, whereas older Boomers may want a retirement pad.

-For the older baby boomers, agents say about half are (47 percent) are looking for a townhome or condo.   27 percent of agents say their older boomer clients prefer an active adult community. And when I say active, I mean active: my husband’s aunt told her children the only way she’d go to a retirement home is if she could have overnight guests — male overnight guests — and a do not disturb sign.