Baby boomers rebuild the nest

The nation's more than 80 million baby boomers are entering their empty-nest years, and they're treating themselves to luxuries now that the kids are gone.

The American Furniture Manufacturers Association surveyed empty nesters and found that 1 out of 4 will renovate a home. While most empty nesters continue living in the same houses, 25 percent will buy new homes.

According to Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies, in each of the past 15 years, about 1 million homeowners spent more than $10,000 each on a major kitchen or bathroom remodeling, an addition, or other major interior alteration.

Jerry Epperson, a furniture industry analyst, says boomers are looking for new homes for several different reasons."You have a generation paying off their first mortgage, seeing their kids leave home, and coming into the first wave of inheritance. This gives them the wherewithal to seriously look at a second or vacation home." But Mr. Epperson also sees a more subtle motivation by empty nesters. "If you have a great place at the beach, at a lake, or in the mountains, you will see the grandkids more often, and we think that is a major driving force for the baby boomers."

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