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The Iris Apfel-Factor


Style Legend Iris Apfel has passed away at the age of 102. For those who don't know her, she was a New York fixture of sorts characterized by her huge black framed glasses and over-sized, bold jewelry, a unique and distinctive look that was truly original. Iris remained highly relevant, productive and active for decades. Standing out as an original in New York City is quite an accomplishment in itself! So what does Iris Apfel have to do with real estate?
Iris personifies a trend globally: she was productive and working and posting on social media, almost till the day she passed away. Her husband had passed away at the age of 100. Not everyone over the age of 75 years old is this active, but increasingly those who are older are living full, productive lives, contributing to society and the economy in big ways, earning, employing, investing, gifting, volunteering, and buying real estate. Think of full time workers Warren Buffet (93 years old), and Stephen Schwartzman (77 years old) running multi-billion dollar entities. 
One of the biggest factors around this aging group is that the older they get while working and investing, the greater the multiplier compounding effects of their net worth:  Stephen Schwartzman's net worth at age 67 was around $10 billion, today, that has quadrupled to around $40 billion. Warren Buffet's net worth 10 years ago was around $58 billion, today it's almost $136 billion, even after giving away billions.
Like many New Yorkers, Iris spent her winters in Palm Beach, Florida, her second home. Many older working people have multiple homes, not just the billionaires. Many are giving money to kids and grandkids while alive and thriving, not waiting. Those who are 90 years old have kids in their 60's and grandkids who are in their 30's. Lots going forward may happen later in life.
The biggest lesson from Iris? Don't bet on living to 'just 78-80 years old', the US average. Already we are seeing people age in place more as new technologies and services emerge to do so. Now add on 10, 15, 20 years. Let this be the biggest warning to renters too. Yes, young generations may only afford to buy a home later in life, but that life may be a lot longer than anticipated. $3,000 in rent per month (with zero escalations) totals over $2.15 million over 60 years. With 2% inflation that soars much, much higher. Now do the math for 80 years!!

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