American housing in the next decade is expected to be shaped by the changing values of adults ages 46 to 64, a study by the Urban Land Institute indicates.
The people in this demographic are healthier than the previous generation of home buyers and expect to work, at least part-time, past the typical retirement age. This indicates a more active lifestyle that supports another of the study’s findings: the members of this age group are more likely to purchase homes in pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use communities in urban and suburban settings.
While the previous generation’s senior years were marked by a migration south, this group exhibits less of a desire to move to the Sun Belt, instead opting to move closer to their children and grandchildren. This move will be dramatic in numbers. A study by the National Association of Home Builders indicates that more than 1.2 million mature adults expect to move this coming year.
What These Homebuyers Are Looking For
Key consumer surveys from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) give insight into what these buyers want in a home. You can expect this group to make buying decisions based on both the design and the layout. These surveys suggest that these buyers are interested in a smaller footprint, in part because they are more affordable to maintain over time. Open and efficient layouts, with a first-floor master bedroom or the space for one to be added, are key interest points. Rather than anticipating a move to assisted living, members of this group are planning on aging in place and want to make sure that their homes can adapt to changes that will make it easier for them to live in and move around their living space. In addition, members of this group want to be able to indulge their tastes for quality details, upgraded features and a higher degree of personalization.
While buyers in this demographic will most likely want to see home space that will permit customization for their specific needs, they will also expect space that allows them to maximize the value of the home’s square footage. They will view a space in multiple ways. For instance, one buyer may view a typical dining room as a potential home office space, while another buyer may see it as a sleepover place for the grandchildren which easily converts to a TV room between visits. Adding doors to these types of rooms would make the property more attractive to a wider range of buyers.
These buyers are tech savvy and regularly use computers to work and communicate, so they will be most interested in homes that feature designated tech space. They will not necessarily want a large home office space, but will look for a nook fitted out with a desktop, chair and computer hookups. Sellers targeting this demographic who incorporate such space in an alcove under the stairs or an arched opening in a wider hallway meet the need.
Efficient storage options are also a priority for these buyers, who have saved and collected possessions that they want to move with them. They will prefer to see closets with storage systems that include drawers and hanging space, garages with built-in storage and a workbench and lighted pantries with roll-out and adjustable shelving.
Finally, these buyers are interested in homes that will cost less to maintain over time. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that consumers spend an average $1,900 annually on utility bills. A property that features energy-efficient upgrades will resonate with these buyers, and research suggests that the following are valued upgrades: high-performance windows, high-efficiency heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems, insulation that exceeds code and water-saving plumbing fixtures and appliances.
“Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2010.” The Urban Land Institute. October 2009.
“Trends and Insights on Boomers and Beyond.” National Association of Home Builders. April 2009.
“AIA Home Design Trend Survey.” American Institute of Architects. December 2009.