Boston's Restless Homeowners:  The 5 Year 5 Week Itch in the Boston Housing Market

Boston's Restless Homeowners: The 5 Year 5 Week Itch in the Boston Housing Market

  • 5 Mar 2024

Boston's Restless Homeowners:

The 5 Year 5 Week Itch in the Boston Housing Market

There are 28.4m households in Britain, of which 17,693,200 are owned, worth a total of £5,127,807,837,600 (£5.1 trillion). When you add all the private rented homes and council houses, that figure reaches just over £8.5 trillion!

Over the last six years, 76,669 UK properties have sold each month, meaning the average British homeowner moves every 16 years

and 7 months.

This data disproves a standard theory that British neighbourhoods are becoming more fleeting and transitory. On the face of it, they show that once you have bought a property you can call home, there isn’t much motivation to move again.

So, are fewer people moving home?

Could it be attributed to a sense of contentment or indifference to moving home?

While we might love our home in Boston, most of you (including myself) still want to 'better ourselves' with a bigger house, better area, etc, which typically requires us to climb the Boston property ladder.

Yet, with Boston house prices having risen by 425% since 1995, the cost of going up the next rung on the Boston property ladder is prohibitive.

Everyone remembers the 1980s when we had a buoyant booming property market as a backcloth; British homeowners moved home every eight or nine years; so now, with the average at just over 16 years, this means each British homeowner moving around two or three times in their adult homeownership lifetime. Maybe we should all rename our homes ‘Dun-Roamin’! Or does it? 

We have all heard the phrase, “lies, damn lies and statistics”.

The statistics mentioned above conceal some astounding features of the British property market. When British homeowners enter their late 50s and early 60s, their inclination to move home drops tremendously. The average length of time a homeowner without a mortgage moves home is 23 years and 3 months (and around seven out of ten outright homeowners, i.e. without a mortgage, are 65 years old or older). 

Yet, British homeowners (with a mortgage) move on average

every 9 years and 11 weeks.

So, whilst I cannot determine who has a mortgage and who doesn't, I can look at how quickly people move home in Boston. I have looked at the last 40 property sales in Boston and found some interesting findings.

The average Boston homeowner moves on

average every 12 years and 29 weeks.

Remember, the UK average is every 16 years and 7 months. Yet it gets fascinating when we delve deeper into that stat.

There seems to be a two-speed (even three-speed) Boston property market (remember in the title I said 5 years and 5 weeks).

Having looked at the last 40 Boston property sales, I then put them in order of how long they had been in that home before they moved, with the fastest first and slowest at the end.

When we look at the 25% quickest home movers in Boston (i.e. 1st to 10th) and then the next slice (the 11th to 20th quickest movers) … these Boston home movers are moving home really fast, yet the gap for the successive two slices broadens remarkably. (i.e. the slowest movers). See for yourself!

The quickest 25% of Boston home movers (i.e. 1st to 10th) moves every 2 years & 20 weeks – that’s a quick move!

The next fastest quartile (i.e. 11th to 20th) of Boston home movers moves every 7 years & 10 weeks.

The following 25% quickest quartile (i.e. 21st to 30th) of Boston home movers moves every 14 years & 36 weeks.

Finally, the 25% slowest quartile (i.e. 31st to 40th) of Boston home movers only moves every 26 years & 0 weeks.

Looking at the top 50% of the quickest movers, half of Boston homeowners move home again within 5 years and 5 weeks.

When looking at the properties that fall into the later bands (i.e. the ones that don’t move/sell so often), they tend to be the larger properties where the homeowners have lived for 30 years plus.

We all should learn that once people get into their 50s and 60s, their tendency to move home drops significantly. This means the properties on the lower rungs of the Boston property ladder sell more often (as younger homeowners occupy them). Yet, once Boston homeowners get older, their inclination to move home diminishes. This obstructs the younger Boston generation wanting to buy the bigger Boston homes these mature homeowners live in.

What is stopping the older generation homeowners from selling and downsizing to free up family homes for families that desperately need them? Some of it will be apathy, some will hold on to the homes they brought their families up in, or there might be another reason.

However, when you consider ...

50.2% of owned homes in Britain have

two or more spare bedrooms.

That’s a lot of spare bedrooms, at least 15,553,574 spare bedrooms, not being used in the UK.

As a country, we need to change how we can support older homeowners in selling their large, underutilised homes to allow them to house the younger families that badly need them. Some people suggest tax breaks, yet the Government aren’t in the mood to give massive tax breaks to people who would 'tend' to be their existing voter base. Much of it comes down to not finding the right home to move to.

As a nation, we have seen (and will continue to see) a lot of socio-economic and demographic changes together with a rising elderly population, so it’s not just about how many homes we build but whether we are building the right kind of homes the older generation want to move into.

Interesting times ahead for the Boston property market!

If you are a mature Boston homeowner in a large home and are afraid to move because you can't find one, please don't hesitate to contact me. I might be able to place your Boston home on the market without a for sale board or internet listing and find you a buyer who is prepared to wait for you to find one. If this interests you, without obligation do not hesitate to pick up the phone.