U.S. home-price gains have restored $3.8 trillion of value to owners since the beginning of the real estate recovery in 2012, according to Federal Reserve data.
In 2012, there were a record 61.8 million Americans over the age of 60, according to the Census. That compares with 46.6 million in 2000.
In the first three months of 2014, buyers plunked down $105.1 billion of their own money for properties, compared with $84.7 billion a year earlier, according to Bloomberg data.
Members of the baby-boom generation have more home equity than their parents because they owned homes during the biggest 30-year housing bull market in history. The median U.S. price of an existing home in April was $201,700, triple the $67,800 median price in 1982 when many were buying their first properties.
Almost 60 percent of boomers said they plan to move out of their present home, according to a March survey by Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate LLC, a brokerage franchise based in Parsippany, New Jersey. Some, like Linda Snetselaar of Iowa City, Iowa, are buying a retirement home now and using it for vacations until they stop working.
About 39 percent of boomers want to retire to a rural community -- either a farm or a small town, according to the Better Homes poll. About 27 percent plan to move to an adult community where activities such as rock climbing and yoga are available. And 26 percent said they want to retire to a city.