More baby boomers continue to work past the age of 65, but many are still looking toward retirement, including downsizing their current home and finding a location that fits their lifestyle. Because they may still be working full or part time, however, they may not have the flexibility — or desire — to move to more destination-oriented locations.
To meet this growing demand, builders are looking toward less traditional locations to create housing for 55+ home buyers. Major developers have started to construct in areas around Boston, Minneapolis and Newark, N.J., for example, to match the needs of this working demographic — a trend likely to continue as the oldest members of Generation X are now starting to reach the age of 55.
“This is a real opportunity for builders to capitalize on the boomer population — a large, affluent demographic with equity to trade into a new home,” observed Deborah Blake, principal at The Ipsum Group. “Builders are able to start with smaller communities — around 300 to 500 units or less — in locations that you wouldn’t necessarily think of for communities in the past.”
One of the biggest hurdles builders may face in local communities is that boomers oftentimes choose to stay in their current homes because they don’t know what other options are available to them. To make the move, buyers need to see the value of a new home or community, and how it’s better suited to their lifestyle. Features such as single-level living, universal design concepts, and a more attractive social network through amenities and other activities can be a major draw.
“I always say it’s ‘plussing your lifestyle without leaving your neighborhood,’” Blake noted. “They get to enjoy their career, with a full-time income, and live in a home that fits their lifestyle — it’s the best of both worlds.”
Builders are also experiencing strong competition in the resale market in popular destinations such as Arizona and Florida, she added. Buyers are able to purchase less-expensive homes in 25- to 30-year-old communities that have been well-maintained and boast vibrant groups of residents.
Before looking into local opportunities, however, it’s critical to understand this niche audience. “Success requires the right pricing and creating the right things to compel a 55+ buyer to say, ‘My current home doesn’t fit my needs or lifestyle,’” Blake stated.
Learn more about the features boomer buyers want, as well as tips on how to market to this demographic, through resources from NAHB’s 55+ Housing Industry Council.
With three decades of real-life experience — 22 years with Del Webb and the last seven-plus years advising clients across the United States at The Ipsum Group — Deborah Blake is uniquely qualified to provide pragmatic advice in the areas of consumer research, community feasibility, visioning, amenity and lifestyle programming, branding, marketing, sales, residential product, and operations of 55+ targeted and age-qualified communities.