Downsizing: Who is the typical “Downsizer”?

Meet Karen and Bob, our prototypical downsizers. Bob is 61 and Karen is 59 and are married. They have a combined household income of $92,000. They live in a 3 bedroom 2 bath home and their current home size is a bit less than 2,000 square feet. Their number one reason to move is they want a smaller home, so we are looking at places about 700 square feet smaller than their current residence.

That’s the profile of a “Buyer Who Downsized Their Home,” according to the latest Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers study by the National Association of REALTORS.

Some interesting things stood out for me in the study:

  • More than one-in-five home buyers say they are downsizers: a remarkable 22%!
  • Because it is a nationwide study, the average home size and value is skewed much smaller than what we see here on Bainbridge. The median home price for downsizers nationally is $220,000, or about 1.8% less than the median home value. That home on Bainbridge would translate to roughly $655,000 in this first quarter of 2016.
  • You would think that more downsizers would be buying a condo or a townhome. Perhaps in some urban markets, but not nationally: 80% bought another single-family detached home. Only 8% bought a townhouse and only 5% moved into a condo. I am currently working with a widow who will be leaving the island to join her sister in a trip across the country in a motorhome- she will be part of the 7% who doesn’t buy another home right away.
  • You would also think they might be moving to urban areas, where one can walk to more services, from retail stores and restaurants to medical services, but the majority are not. In fact, 55% of downsizers purchase a home in a suburb or subdivision!
  • Not all downsizers are married couples, although the greatest chunk of them are, comprising 67%. The second biggest category of downsizers: Single women, comprising 18% of the total. That could be related to the fact that women outlive men, but that’s just an educated guess.

One more really interesting statistic about downsizers: 1 in 10 are now buying what is called a “Multigenerational Home” so they can house either their parents or their children (or both!). Main floor master suites are highly desirable so people can ‘age in place’.

One number that is vital to keep in mind: nearly all of them (85%) used a real estate agent. I suspect they recognized the value a knowledgeable and compassionate professional can provide in navigating the many decisions needed to downsize effectively.

And if you’re planning on downsizing on Bainbridge Island, I would love to hear how your numbers compare to the national statistics. Connect with me so I can learn your story: or 206.399.3641.

Here’s a great chart that shows the research highlights, courtesy of NAR.