5 Home Design Needs for Boomers

Daily Real Estate News | Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The number of home buyers ages 55 and older is expected to grow over the next decade, and builders across the country are ramping up to serve them. At the International Builders' Show in Orlando, Fla., this week, the National Association of Home Builders is educating attendees about how to support the industry's efforts to cater to this segment of the market.

In one session, Deryl Patterson, president of Housing Design Matters in Jacksonville, Fla., offered ideas of how to design, remodel, and market spaces so that they'll be more appealing to older home buyers. She says one important element is to avoid treating baby boomer clients as if they've suddenly developed a whole new set of living preferences. Patterson told attendees it makes more sense to think of boomers as "mature" in the sense that they are experienced buyers who know what they want. She described their mindset about their home purchase as: "I'm going to do it right this time, finally."

Here are some home features you can be on the lookout for:

  1. Rethink the laundry room. After the kids move out, many home owners spend less time in the laundry room, but that doesn’t mean they want to ditch it entirely. As the house becomes less chore-centric, Patterson says, home owners are more prone to focus on fun. Try carving out a space for crafts or pet care if a huge laundry room feels like a waste of space to buyers.
  2. Boost the light. Patterson noted that as people age, the lens of the eye thickens and lets in less light. This means a 60-year-old needs six times as much light as a 20-year-old. Look for inexpensive ways to add light in unexpected places, such as inside drawers and cabinets.
  3. Be subtle about accessible features. Everyone wants to be able to age in place, but few want to think of a time when they’ll be physically limited. Thankfully, many features that make a home more navigable and safer for those with mobility issues aren't very obvious, such as even, level surfaces that make it easier for those using wheelchairs, canes, or walkers. Patterson also noted that many bathroom product manufacturers are now making grab bars that look more like shelves and towel racks than institutional-style safety features.
  4. Point out low-maintenance features. Patterson said one of the first things that comes to mind when people are looking for a low-maintenance home is the size of the lawn, but she noted that there's much more to taking care of a home than that. "I want you to think beyond yard maintenance," she told attendees. She noted that stain-resistant quartz countertops and roofs that don't have nooks where leaves can collect can be important qualities of a listing.
  5. Examine where the stairs lead. Steps can be problematic for those with mobility issues, but they aren't an automatic no-no for communities targeted at older buyers. It just depends on what's at the top of the staircase. A bunk room for the grandkids or an exercise room is a much better use for second- and third-floor space than a master bedroom or another place the primary resident might have to visit frequently. Also, landings and railings are both safety musts, Patterson says. "Stairs are the number one reason people go to the emergency room, and not just those over 55."

—Meg White, REALTOR® Magazine

Baby Boomers Finding Freedom In Retirement

by The KCM Crew on November 3, 2015

source: KCM

source: KCM

Within the next five years, Baby Boomers are projected to have the largest household growth of any other generation during that same time period, according to the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard. Let’s take a look at why…

In a recent Merrill Lynch study, “Home in Retirement: More Freedom, New Choices” they surveyed nearly 6,000 adults ages 21 and older about housing.

Crossing the “Freedom Threshold”

Throughout our lives, there are often responsibilities that dictate where we live. Whether being in the best school district for our children, being close to our jobs, or some other factor is preventing a move, the study found that there is a substantial shift that takes place at age 61.

The study refers to this change as “Crossing the Freedom Threshold”. When where you live is no longer determined by responsibilities, but rather a freedom to live wherever you like. (see the chart below)

source: KCM and Merrill Lynch

source: KCM and Merrill Lynch

In retirement, you have the chance to live anywhere you want. Or you can just stay where you are. There hasn’t been another time in life when we’ve had that kind of freedom.
— As one participant in the study stated

On the Move

According to the study, “an estimated 4.2 million retirees moved into a new home last year alone.” Two-thirds of retirees say that they are likely to move at least once during retirement.

The top reason to relocate cited was “wanting to be closer to family” at 29%, a close second was “wanting to reduce home expenses”. See the chart below for the top 6 reasons broken down.

source: KCM and Merrill Lynch

source: KCM and Merrill Lynch

Not Every Baby Boomer Downsizes

There is a common misconception that as retirees find themselves with fewer children at home, they will instantly desire a smaller home to maintain. While that may be the case for half of those surveyed, the study found that three in ten decide to actually upsize to a larger home.

Some choose to buy a home in a desirable destination with extra space for large family vacations, reunions, extended visits, or to allow other family members to move in with them.

Retirees often find their homes become places for family to come together and reconnect, particularly during holidays or summer vacations.

Bottom Line

If your housing needs have changed or are about to change, meet with a local real estate professional in your area (like me if you're in Vermont!) who can help with deciding your next step.

source: KCM Blog - keepingcurrentmatters.com