Why 55+ Boomers Aren’t as Mobile as We’d Think
John McManus / Builder / September 24, 2018
Many new-home builders and residential developers bank on a decade ahead or more worth of big time 55+ home and community demand, based on the sheer numbers of people who’re currently between the ages of 54 and 73, the Baby Boom’s ongoing next chapter.
Baby Boomers are the part of the population barbells everybody talks about, except that they have money.
Except when they don’t.
And except when they don’t want to move, even if they have the wherewithal.
When it comes to selling their longtime homes to downsize, possibly move into that dream home they’ve worked for so long and so deserve, boomers aren’t living up to many expectations.
Here’s Alexandra Lee, Housing Data Analyst for Trulia’s Housing Economics Research Team, on the topic.
Baby boomers are staying in place longer because the life events that might cause them to downsize are being delayed. Seniors in recent years have adopted significantly different lifestyles than seniors even a decade ago. For one, they’re working longer. The proportion of household heads 65 and over who are still in the labor force rose to 19.3% in 2016 from 15.9% in 2005. What’s more, the kids are moving out later. Senior households living alone represented 83.4% in 2016, ticking down from 85.2% in 2005. In 2016, 16.1% of senior households had younger generations living with them, up from 14.4% in 2005. These factors mean senior households aren’t considering downsized housing options until later in life.
Truisms about what people value and do when they’re wrapping up 35 or 40 or 50-year careers need a fresh look. How can we expect today’s generation of 55+ adults to behave, believe, prefer, and opt for what “active adults” have chosen in the past?
Apart from very different economic and financial context, boomers’ lives have been transformed by technology, and they’ve engaged in transforming technologies that directly impacts how and where they live.
We find that most of the R&D on how people want to live in their homes and communities, for what it is, focuses on younger households, attempting to make homes more conscious through responsive, thoughtful, engaging design and engineering.
It would seem that in addition to looking at economic and financial drivers in designing homes for 55-plus buyers, builders would have another enormous opportunity based on trends that come through in a recent AARP survey, which you can see here.
While 76% of Americans age 50 and older say they prefer to remain in their current residence and 77% would like to live in their community as long as possible, just 59% anticipate they will be able to stay in their community, either in their current home (46%) or a different home still within their community (13%).
Communities become a source of support and engagement for residents, particularly for older adults, who have an even stronger desire to age in place. The AARP survey finds many adults age 50 and older are willing to consider alternatives such as home sharing (32%), building an accessory dwelling unit (31%) and villages that provide services that enable aging in place (56%).
Quality affordable urban and suburban infill options, and new construction that can accommodate a revenue unit or another adult household should account for outsized demand in the years to come.
The challenge, of course, is whether those offerings can be built.