Mom and Dad probably won't be ready to downsize to that condo anytime soon. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg
Mom and Dad probably won't be ready to downsize to that condo anytime soon. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg

It's a specter that haunts homebuyers as they pour their hearts, souls and salaries into their biggest asset: What happens when the baby boomers start retiring and selling their homes in order to buy cute little easy-to-maintain condos?

In fact, what if that process has already started? The first baby boomer began collecting Social Security in February 2008. A few months later, the economy went into free fall due to collapsing housing prices. Coincidence? I THINK NOT.

Well, think again. According to Jed Kolko, chief economist at Trulia, baby boomers haven't begun downsizing. In fact, it's quite the opposite:

Based on the 2013 Current Population Survey’s Annual Social and Economic Supplement (CPS ASEC) -- the most recent detailed demographic data available -- baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964, which means 50-68 years old in 2014) are less likely than almost any other age group to live in multi-unit buildings as opposed to single-family homes. The only age group less likely to live in multi-unit buildings is 70-74 year-olds, which is the age group that baby boomers will start to enter in the coming years.

In fact, while seniors do eventually start moving into multi-family housing, they do it later, and less often, than you'd think:

So if you're worried about a boomer-led housing bust, you should probably look for it to start sometime around 2025. Which leaves you plenty of time to get that mortgage paid off and reduce your exposure to the market.

To contact the author of this article: Megan McArdle at mmcardle3@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this article: James Gibney at jgibney5@bloomberg.net.