Affluence provides choices in life styles, and today's so-called "baby boomers," made up of two-income households, are exercising their options freely.
Those--the 30-to-40-year-olds--in the Los Angeles housing market show a preference for moving to larger houses in better neighborhoods, rather than staying put and improving their present homes, as their parents are doing.
Unlike the previous generation of homeowners, the children of the post-World War II era prefer to hire someone to do their fixing up and repairing, again unlike their parents, who created the "do-it-yourself" syndrome.
Last year, the American home remodeling industry enjoyed its greatest year ever, recording $80.3-billion in improvements and repairs to existing dwellings; 25% of all that work was done by do-it-yourselfers.
A newly completed national survey shows that what mom and dad have been doing about fixing up the home where junior and sis grew up is not exactly what those grown-up sons and daughters are doing or want to do today about their own homes.
"This is the age of the two-career family. Many of today's homeowners find that time has a high value of its own. They're willing to have someone else perform such work," Ed Gresham, president of ERA Real Estate, said.
His firm has just received the results of a nationwide survey of more than 400 independent and franchise realty brokers on the preferences of their customers. Since 1983, Opinion Research Inc. has conducted the study for ERA twice a year.
Fifty-three percent of Los Angeles area brokers surveyed said their baby-boomer customers are more likely to buy a larger home than to add on to the present dwelling. Sixty-five percent believed their customers would move to a new area rather than stay in the present neighborhood.
When it comes to do-it-yourself chores, this new generation prefers to hire it out, 5l% of the national respondents said.
The average selling price of an existing dwelling today in Hometown, USA, is $105,300, compared to $98,600 six months ago. On a national average, today's prices are about 36% higher than the 1983 figure of $77,700.
In Los Angeles, the average selling price of a resale home is $149,700. The homeowner selling a house at that price and moving into another home, new or resale, faces the very real possibility of tripled property taxes on that purchase because of the present tax assessment process. Hence, the very realistic choice not to move but to "stay put and improve."
Considering the highly active real estate market here and in most sectors of the country, brokers predicted that the average American home a year from now would be priced at $109,300, up about 4%. In Los Angeles, respondents expect an increase of 8%, pushing the average resale price here to $163,000.
The survey showed that about equal numbers of homeowners are delving into either the buying market or the refinancing market: 39% moving up to more expensive dwellings and 41% finding better rates for existing mortgages.
Families able to afford expensive homes, in the $500,000 category or higher, list as their priorities more bathrooms, a custom-designed kitchen, generous closet space and special rooms to entertain--all very basic desires and none of which seems unusual or exorbitant, certainly for this income range.
In the mid-range of preferences were good police and fire protection and a security system, which seemingly would belong in the priority area; extensive landscaping, a large lot and a three-car garage.
The least of their concerns were seller financing, low property taxes, low operating expenses, five bedrooms, swimming pool, sauna or hot tub.
If they have a half-million dollar home, typically it will have more than 4,300 square feet of living space but the size varies, depending on its whereabouts, according to the survey. On the East Coast, it will average about 3,600 square feet, 5,000 square feet in the South and 3,700 square feet in Los Angeles.
And what else is ahead for the baby boomers, aside from old age?
Better off, better educated and probably longer living, they'll want and will be able to afford better housing than any other generation.