The Silver Tsunami Is Coming To St Petersburg

Dated: December 2 2019

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Baby Boomers across the country are set to leave their homes at record levels in the coming years.

No area will be more impacted than the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metro area, according to a new study by Zillow.

By 2027, 15.2 percent of the homes in the Tampa-St. Pete area that currently are occupied by their owners will be released to the market by seniors — those who are 60 years old or older. That number will rise to 33.2 percent by 2037, the study said.

The so-called “silver tsunami” could help alleviate a housing shortage, Zillow said. The housing shortage — an estimated 60,000 homes in Tampa-St. Pete as of August 2018 — was created as builders struggled to overcome labor shortages and the rising cost of materials.

But price, location and style of the housing released by seniors to the market will all play a role in its impact on the shortage. For instance, most of the homes will need to be renovated to appeal to a younger generation, said Bob Glaser, president and CEO of Smith & Associates Real Estate.

“There will be a continued great shortage of housing. The challenge is to retrofit them, to get them to be acceptable for the new age market that prefers everything to be in great shape when they buy it,” Glaser said.

Nikki Phillips, vice president for real estate at Smith & Associates, agreed that the biggest challenge is fixing up homes so that they are attractive to younger buyers.

Young people starting out have a different perspective. I’ve been doing this for almost 20 years. When I started my career, first time homebuyers were really accepting and compromising, and they are less so now. We blame HGTV,” she said.

Location is another factor that could play a role. Parts of the community outside of the urban core that are less appealing to some younger buyers now could become more attractive as technology such as automated vehicles becomes more prevalent, Glaser said.

One factor the study doesn’t take into account is the proximity of the Tampa-St. Pete area to the beaches and other vacation favorites. The homes seniors are living in now could be VRBO or Airbnb short-term rentals a decade from now, Phillips said.

“I suspect a percentage of the population that are boomers vacating their homes won’t sell,” Phillips said. “They will trade hands and go into inheritance by their own heirs, and  if their heirs aren’t attracted to come here and vacation or snowbird, they may be attracted to the investment return they can get from transitioning that from mom and dad’s retirement home to their Airbnb.”

Parts of the Tampa-St. Pete metro area are expected to be more impacted than others by the silver tsunami. In the city of Seminole, for instance, 42.8 percent of homes currently occupied by seniors will be released to the market by 2037. In Largo, that number is 38.2 percent, and in the west part of the city of St. Petersburg it’s 38 percent. But in the east part of St. Petersburg, which takes in the downtown area, it’s 34.1 percent, and in Tampa city central it’s 24.8 percent.

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