April 28 – A much larger percentage of baby boomers now cite ”being close to family and friends” as their primary motivation for selecting an age-qualified active adult community. The sharp increase, from 19.7% in 2001 to 39.9% in 2007, represents one of the most striking conclusions from a study released today at the NAHB`s Building for Boomers & Beyond: 50+ Housing Symposium in Philadelphia. The study was produced by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and the MetLife Mature Market Institute (MMI). The data is significant because by 2010 the Boomers will represent one quarter of the U.S. population.
Design is the other critical factor
Americans who are 55+, in addition to being family oriented, are also very picky consumers. Design is very important to them – the study found that the design of the home and community is a primary consideration in choosing a new community. Buyers of active adult communities will also go to great lengths to find just the right new home; they typically visit an average of 12 homes before making a purchase.
“The Baby Boomers’ influence on housing choices has been profound, and will have a huge impact on trends in housing for the mature market as that age group continues to move toward retirement,” said Sandra Timmerman, director of the MetLife Mature Market Institute. “Some findings, such as the tendency for buyers in 55+ communities to continue to work in greater numbers and for longer periods of time, show us that this group is redefining the traditional notion of retirement to suit their lifestyle choices.”
The multi-phased study, “Housing for the 55+ Market: Trends and Insights on Boomers and Beyond,” examines a number of trends and behaviors of the important boomer segment and the population in general. The research, released during NAHB’s Building for Boomers & Beyond: 50+ Housing Symposium in Philadelphia, includes an in-depth profile of the 55+ market, based on figures from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Housing Survey from 2001 through 2007.
Although the data covers all types of housing and households, the research concentrates on age qualified active adult communities, other non-age-qualified 55+ owner-occupied communities (not explicitly age-restricted but nevertheless occupied primarily by people age 55+), and age restricted rental communities.
The research showed that while most 55+ consumers prefer to stay in their current home as they age, an increasing number (3 percent, compared to 2.2 percent in 2001) will opt for an age-restricted community designed to attract “active adults” with a heavy emphasis on lifestyle. The analysis also confirmed that while most consumers were generally happy with their current homes, residents of age-restricted active-adult communities had the highest satisfaction rates.
The research noted that those who were residents of multifamily dwellings often sought less expensive homes. Of the Baby Boomers who are close to the traditional retirement age of 65, many are not yet planning to retire, are looking for a community close to their place of employment, or one that allows them to transition into a work-from-home situation. The number of people who chose a community close to work increased from 11.4 percent in 2001 to 16.6 percent in 2007.
And while there is increasing interest in age-restricted housing among mature adults, the number of units being built has decreased with the downturn in the economy. Not coincidentally, sales of new homes for active adults have fallen off as interested buyers either cannot sell their current homes, or simply decide to wait for a more stable market.
Download the research from the MetLife Mature Market Institute at www.maturemarketinstitute.com under “What’s New.”