Ron Denhaan, Realtor (949) 290-3263. Ornage County real estate specialist.
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The Greener Home
Baby Boomers: Greatest Real Estate Generation?

October 23, 2006 -- Realty Times Feature Article by Kenneth R. Harney

Baby boomers have been called lots of things during the past 50 years, but new research from Harris Interactive and the National Association of Realtors suggests that another label may be appropriate: The greatest real estate generation.

Like no previous demographic group, the 78 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964 have a seemingly insatiable appetite for real estate. The study, based on a statistically representative sample of 1,969 boomers polled early this spring, was released last week by NAR.

Here's just a sampling of the findings:

Boomers have a passion for property -- nearly eight in 10 own their own homes, and among higher income boomers the homeownership rate exceeds 90 percent. Boomers account for just 38 percent of all households, but they own more than half of all second homes.

One out of four boomers owns at least one piece of commercial real estate, land, rental property or a vacation home. One third of all boomers who own rental real estate own more than one unit. Among those who own commercial property, 29 percent own multiple investment parcels.

Nearly one of every seven baby boomers owns undeveloped land, with a median holding of five acres. Forty-four percent of those who own land report their holdings range from 11 to 100 acres or higher.

Boomers' high rate of real estate ownership has made many of them wealthy -- or at least financially comfortable. Their median household net worth is $149,500 -- and $100,000 of that is attributable to home equity. But 39 percent of boomers have net worths ranging from $250,000 to $5 million or more.

Thirty-five percent report primary home equities -- the value of their principal residence minus mortgage debt -- of $150,000 to $1 million or more. Homeowners on the west coast and the northeastern states generally have higher net worths than those in the south or midwest -- primarily because home equities tend to be larger in higher-cost real estate markets.

Thirty-six percent of boomers in the western states own homes worth $500,000 to $1 million or more. Fifteen percent of boomers in the northeast own homes valued at more than $500,000, while just 3 percent in the south and 1 percent in the midwest are in that category.

The value of primary homes looms large among boomers' estimates of their personal wealth: Thirty-seven percent of them say their house represents at least 51 percent of their total financial worth. Among younger boomers -- those age 42 to 49 -- primary homes account for 51 to 100 percent of net worth for 38 percent of them.

Even with all the real estate they already control, boomers plan to keep buying more of it. Among those with household incomes of $100,000 and up, 37 percent say it is likely or extremely likely that they will purchase real estate within the next 12 months.

What do they expect to buy? Two thirds say they're going to purchase a new primary residence. Another 26 percent plan to acquire land, 19 percent rental property, 15 percent vacation or seasonal property and 14 percent commercial real estate.

The greatest real estate generation? They just might be. And most of them are likely to be active in the realty marketplace for years to come. (