Tuesday, June 8, 2010

BUYING & SELLING: How Do Mature Homebuyers Want to Feather Their Nests?

This post is the first in a series of three articles about generational home-buying preferences. Author, John Tarducci, discusses baby boomer, generation X and generation Y purchasing trends. Stay tuned for his future installments!

Buyers ages 55+ have distinctly different ideas about the kind of housing they want to live in, according to a 2009 survey on buyer preferences.

The study by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and MetLife Mature Market Institute reflects the shifting priorities of seniors when compared to the general population.

Housing Type and Location

Most respondents (53%) preferred a single-family detached home; 13% preferred a condominium. According to the survey, roughly equal percentages (32%, 31% and 28%, respectively) preferred living in a suburb outside a city, an outlying suburb or a rural community; 9% preferred city life.

Mature Home Buyers
Respondents liked living near shopping centers (57%), hospital/doctor’s offices (55%) and drug store (49%) while fewer desired proximity to a bike trail (12%) or golf course (8%).

Interestingly, a February 1, 2010 U.S. News & World Report story suggested that older baby boomers approaching retirement will increasingly choose condominiums in pedestrian-friendly “urbanized suburban town centers.”
 Square Footage

Housing size preferences remained fairly similar to the median existing home size of those surveyed (1,886 sf, although the median square footage desired (1,903 sf) rose with household income, up to 2,707 sf for those with incomes of $150,000 or more.

Floor Plan and Layout

Most respondents (79%) prefers single-story living during their golden years. Just 52% of the general population shares this preference.
Over half (51%) of those surveyed said they wanted three bedrooms; another 18% preferred four bedrooms.
Seniors aren’t willing to stint on convenience. A majority (43%) said they wanted two bathrooms, while 22% wanted 2.5 bathrooms; 14% said they wanted three or more bathrooms.
Master bedrooms should be on the first floor, said 69% of respondents (Just 16% of all buyers feel the same.)
46% said they wanted a two-car garage.
Special Features

Buyers were asked to rate the importance of 36 home features. Here are the most important features, based on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being “very important.”

Washer/dryer 4.5
Storage space 4.3
Windows that open easily 4.2
Private patio 3.9
Bigger bathrooms 3.8
When compared to the general population, those ages 55+ cared less about a kitchen work island (42% vs. 80%); separate shower enclosure (48% vs. 79%); private toilet compartment (13% vs. 60%); wood-burning fireplace (26% vs. 48%) or exercise room (27% vs. 38%).

However, seniors cared more than the general population about bathroom grab bars (54% vs. 26%); lower kitchen work surfaces (57% vs. 30%); and a stairless entry (46% vs. 31%).

Green Construction

Given a choice of green features, respondents favored:

Energy-efficient appliances 79%
Solar heating 63%
Water-filtering system 58%
Chemical-free building materials 42%
Security/Technology Features

High-speed Internet access (83%) is far more important to seniors than the next highest ranked security/technology feature, a home security system (55%).

As aging baby boomers continue to transition from careers and raising families to retirement, the homes they live in will change as well. New homebuyers today have a wealth of options they can choose from to tailor their homes to their new lifestyle.

By John Tarducci, CMP, CRB Senior Vice President on May 14, 2010 New Homes Division

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