‘Convergence’ Is Shaping Urban America

A swing toward urbanism is shaping “Big City, North America.”

It’s those darn demographics again. Only this time it’s not just a baby boomer thing; it’s what some experts are calling a “convergence” between boomers and millennials, also called “Generation Y” and born between 1981 and 2000.

In their home searches, empty-nester boomers are looking for smaller houses in centrally located neighborhoods within walking distance of everything.

Meanwhile, Gen Yers simply prefer the urban lifestyle. The result is an influx of buyers to downtowns and away from suburbia.

The heightened demand for these urban neighborhoods is exceeding supply. In some cities, a rental boomlet is under way, as Gen Yers are finding the urban lifestyle they want in rental apartments and condos.

Size matters, too. Both boomers and Gen Yers are finding that small is beautiful, purchasing smaller urban properties with postage stamp-sized yards or tiny downtown condos with expansive views.

The urban lifestyle also has some new fans: Single women now represent 21% of U.S. first-time buyers compared to 12% for single men, according to a survey by the National Association of Realtors.

The full impact of the new urbanism has yet to be felt.

But it’s a good bet it will change the shape of cities – and suburbs – for some time to come.