55+ Home Buyers and Builders Not Exactly in Synch

Category: Baby Boomer Retirement Issues

Note: This is the 1st of a 3 part article. Here is a link to the second, “Conflict Looming on Suburban Retirement: Desire Vs. Reality“. Part 3 is a Self-Assessment for Baby Boomer Retirement Preferences.

As the largest demographic in American history, the baby boomer population is a well-studied group: all sorts of marketers are anxious to know what we will be up to next. Part II of a 55+Housing joint study done by the National Association of Home Builders and The Met Life Mature Marketing Institute was just released: “What are Builders Building, What Do Buyers Want“, and the results provide an interesting insight into what is happening in the 55+ housing market.

55market1One important fact to know is that some 62% of all boomers plan on staying where they live now,which is generally in the suburbs. That percentage staying home is probably lower than their parents’ generation, but it still represents a very large number of people who intend to age in place. Only 9% are interested in living in a city, and 28% would prefer rural life.

People 55+, who increasingly include a lot of baby boomers, are looking for these features in their new homes:
– Single story home (79% prefer)
– A home should be about 1900 sq.ft., about the size of their current home
– Most (51%) want a 3 bedroom home
– They expect to pay about $189,000 for their new home, around $70,000 less than the value of their current home.
– Highly desired inside features include washer dryer in the home, storage space, easy to open windows, 1st floor master bedroom, and easy to use climate control,
– High speed internet access is an overwhelming need

Community services. Would be buyers are interested in these services in their new communities:
– Proximity to shopping, walking/jogging trails, doctors, and church were the 4 most popular location preferences
– Maintenance programs (indoor and outdoor)
– Transportation services
– On site medical care
– Housekeeping

Some of the features that were not high up on the 55+ market’s mind:
– Green. Only 12% said they would pay more for an environmentally friendly home
– Elevators, compartmentalized toilets, and fireplaces placed near the bottom of desired features

Reasons for relocating:
The top reason for relocating would be to live in a lower maintenance home. Moving to be closer to family members is second, and lower cost living is third.

What the builders are building
– 55+ builders are constructing more single family detached homes (69%) than single family attached or townhouses (29%)
– Most homes are being built in the inner suburbs (46%), followed by the inner suburbs (30%), then cities

Gaps between Buyers and Builders – Almost but not exactly in synch.
– Builders are building a higher percentage (29%) of single family attached homes than buyers say they have a preference for (13%)
– 55+ households seem to prefer the farther out suburbs more than builders are building there
– Likewise builders are building a higher percentage of 2 story homes than buyers say they want
– When it comes to interior features there is an interesting mishmash of what buyers want and what builders are including. In general, builders seem more aware of the importance of universal design than consumers. Buyers want more non slip floors and 1st floor master bedrooms than builders are building. But in contrast, builders are including more 1st floor full baths, door levers (rather than knobs), and wider hallways than consumers say they have a preference for.
– When it comes to location consumers are very interested in having a drug store in their community, a preference not reflected by builders.
– Consumers wish builders would offer more maintenance services, both inside and out.

Summary
In general, 55+ consumers and builders for that market are in agreement about their preferences more than their differences. Consumers don’t seem to appreciate the importance of universal design yet. Builders seem to be building more of what they want to build where they can build it, compared to what consumers want. Bottom line for you the consumer: Know what features are important to you in your next home, and make sure you buy a home in a community that has them. This is still a buyers market, so you are in charge!

Part 2: Conflict Looming Over Suburban Retirement: Desire Vs. Reality

Posted by John Brady on September 22nd, 2009

6 Comments »

  1. Thank you for this interesting article on the retirement housing needs of baby boomers. If we are 55, or in my case 60, and life expectancy is now 80, what you are describing is an important issue. It is shaping how we will live for another 25 to 30 years.

    The thing that gets past so many of us is that we have yet to face a period that is about as long as our entire adult lives. If one is 55 and we assume adulthood begins at 21, we have had 34 years of life as an adult. As we face these questions, we are literally at the mid-point of our lives. It is, as you have pointed out, important to make good choices and to know what you want.

    Shallie Bey

    Smarter Small Business Blog
    P.S. – Sorry, forgot to tell you great post!

    by Shallie Bey — September 22, 2009

  2. Shallie makes some great points in her post above – we are likely to live a long time in our new homes, better choose wisely. Meanwhile our friends at Buildingonline.com quoted Sandra Timmermann, Ed.D., director of the MetLife Mature Market Institute. We think her comments are right on. Builders might be missing the point about some of the things consumers want, but a lot of people 55+ are unrealistic and not planning well either: “The homes consumers say they want may present difficulties for the long term as they age in place. They prefer the suburbs and the country, but these areas generally lack public transportation. Universal design is not a strong preference, but they’ll need greater accessibility later on. Aside from recognizing that one-story homes will be best for their later years, customers may be somewhat unrealistic.”

    by John Brady — September 24, 2009

  3. I found the article very helpful as I am retired, 59 and currently in a 3B/2B 1800 sq. ft. home with every quality you mentioned. I have been trying to decide if I want to downsize to a condo community, which often has maintenance fees. This article helps confirm to stay where I am at and can hire maintenance help if needed in the future.
    Baby boomers still want a comfortable nest and also easy access to local hospitals, churches, etc. Community and neighbors I feel is also important, sounds old school, but that is still a great part of our generation.
    Good article, enjoy all the articles, would like to see some on places to spend the winter to get out of the cold. Also more on retired singles. Thanks

    by Lynette — September 26, 2009

  4. […] Note: This article is a continuation of our earlier article, “55+ Home Buyers and Builders Not Exactly in Synch“. […]

    by » Boomer Conflict Looming on Suburban Retirement: Desire Vs. Reality Topretirements — September 27, 2009

  5. […] and their retirement real estate plans. Part 1 featured the differences (and similarities) of boomers’ retirement housing preferences and the homes builders are building. Part 2 explored the conflict between baby boomer desire to […]

    by » Baby Boomer Self-Appraisal: Where Should I Live Topretirements — October 12, 2009

  6. […] interior steps are at a minimum, halls are wide, and fixtures/counters at a convenient height. Make universal design part of your […]

    by » 2010 Predictions - What Baby Boomers Want in Retirement Topretirements — February 1, 2010

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