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In a market badly out of kilter, many older residents are stuck in their homes

Buying
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Joe Galli is a 60-year-old empty nester living alone in a four-bedroom Colonial in Shrewsbury. “I want to downsize but it doesn’t make economic sense,” he said. Jonathan Wiggs/Globe staff

They bought their homes when they were young, making money, and raising families. Now they’re empty nesters, in or nearing retirement, and living in houses that are too big for them.

But many older residents in Massachusetts who’d like to downsize — and turn over spacious dwellings to younger buyers desperate for room to expand —are finding it difficult, if not impossible. Even though their property values have ballooned, smaller homes or condos are scarce and carry prohibitive price tags in the state’s out-of-kilter real estate market.

“We’re just sitting tight right now,” said Mary Prosnitz, 66, of Wellesley. She and her 69-year-old husband, Jay, raised two sons, now grown, in the five-bedroom home they purchased 38 years ago and still live in.

A move that would let her stay in the town she’s familiar with — an aim of many downsizing suburbanites — seems impractical, Prosnitz said, because “there’s no ranch houses for seniors.” That, in turn, creates a logjam that means “no starter homes for young families,” she lamented.

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