Dubious ‘Downsizers’ Demand Driver Debunked

There has been a lot of hubbub and buzz about ‘downsizers’ in the media recently. Demographer Bernard Salt has even described the movement as “the next iteration beyond the sea and tree change”. An article published in The Australian (Downsizing Baby Boomers Seize the Day, Robyn Ironside, 17th July 2018) even quotes a local real estate agent claiming that downsizers are “the largest part of the market at the moment”. So, when will the grey tide fill our middle ring and push the rest of us young’uns out to the fringe?

They won’t.

See the below statistics from the Census that break people into categories based on Age and whether they moved. We see that two thirds (66.6%) and close to half (44.3%) of people in the 25-34 and 35-49 groups (respectively) moved in the 5 years to 2016 whereas only 24.8% of people aged 50-69 moved in the same period.

This point weighs even heavier when you consider that both of the younger categories are much larger than the aged category, that 66% and 44% represent close to 3.5 million individuals, not each buying a house, but each having moved in that five-year period. This compares to a total of just 552,000 movements amongst those aged 50-69 over the same period, approximately one-seventh of the total movements of the other two groups.

Table 1: PUR 5 Years Ago

Table 2: PUR 1 year ago

While downsizing has hit the media over the last year, it has been a growing trend in the aged community for well over a decade. Growing, that is, in proportion to the size of the aged community – a community that has grown significantly as a proportion of the population since 2000.

The visibility of this shift has undoubtedly been the cause of the current media fascination with downsizing and it has not yet become the primary driver in the property market – don’t believe everything you read!

Authors:  Declan Hartsis - Economics Analyst Amanda Kor - Business Development


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