Baby Boomers Downsizing? No, They're Upsizing To Luxury, Sotheby's Says

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A luxury home for sale on the shores of Lake Memphremagog, Quebec. Baby boomers continue to drive sales in the luxury real estate market, upsizing their homes while also helping their Gen-Y offspring with home purchases, according to a new report. | Royal LePage
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TORONTO - Baby boomers continue to drive sales in the luxury real estate market, upsizing their homes while also helping their Gen-Y offspring with home purchases, according to a new report.

The study by Sotheby's International Realty Canada, which involved interviews with leading realtors in specific markets, examined generational differences between buyers of luxury real estate in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Montreal.

It says when looking for top-tier real estate, baby boomers born between 1946 and 1964 gravitate towards traditionally prestigious neighbourhoods such as Toronto's Forest Hill and Vancouver's Kerrisdale.

Meanwhile, family-driven buyers from Generation X, the generation born right after the baby boomers, tend to prioritize neighbourhoods with high-quality schools in vibrant communities.

When looking for high-end homes, homebuyers from Generation Y, also referred to as Millennials, tend to prioritize trendy, urban neighbourhoods with high walkability scores.

Sotheby's president and CEO Ross McCredie says he was surprised to discover how much baby boomer parents are helping their Gen-Y kids with home purchases.

Not only are parents chipping in financially, they also tend to be heavily involved in the process.

McCredie says he was also surprised to discover how important transit is to Gen-Y homebuyers, even in the high-end real estate segment.

"They're focused on transit in a big way," McCredie said. "Even though they might be buying a $1.5-million condo, a lot of them have no interest in buying a car."

Meanwhile, many baby boomers — who were widely expected to downsize in retirement and snatch up condos in droves — are choosing instead to upsize, the report found.

"People in their late 60s who have obviously done well for a variety of different reasons are choosing to sell whatever home they're in today and actually buy an even bigger and more expensive home, typically in the same neighbourhood that they live in," McCredie said.

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