One of the hottest growing segments of the housing market is the baby boomer generation. Many of these individuals are retiring from their decades-long tour in the workforce and are looking to move to greener pastures to enjoy the relaxation promised in their retirement years.
Not only is this one of the hottest segments, but homebuilders are increasingly confident in this market for the prospect of building new homes. According to the National Association of Homebuilders, the confidence level for builders constructing single-family houses aimed at those aged 55 and older continues to stay in positive territory at a reading of 57 for the second quarter 2015. This represents the fifth quarter in a row the reading has registered above 50.
"Overall, builders in the 55+ housing sector remain positive about the market," NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe said. "However, many builders are being cautious as lot availability and skilled labor shortages remain a challenge in some parts of the country."
While there are still some bumps in the road in terms of the availability of land and labor, homebuilders will be focusing on this market segment, many of whom do not see retirement as a chance to slow down, but as the next great adventure in their lives.
For builders constructing single-family residences aimed at the baby boomer demographic, here are four ways to attract these households:
- Harken back to the good ol' days
Many baby boomers like to reminisce about the good ol' days, when deals were made with a handshake and television only had a handful of channels. As BuilderOnline noted, due to the similarities in price points and services, many builders have little wiggle room to distinguish themselves from their competitors. However, incorporating vintage design features that evoke a feeling of nostalgia is one way to stand out from the crowd and indulge baby boomers' desires to return to a bygone era.
- Appeal to the aging process
Although the majority of baby boomers do not plan on slowing down, many do plan on aging in place. The idea of living in senior living facilities and retirement communities does not appeal to them. With this in mind, builders should consider eschewing the two-story models they use to construct many single-family homes. Instead, one-story homes will become much more sought after so that these individuals can remain in the house for as long as possible, without losing access to the entire upstairs portion in case something does happen.
- Incorporate private outdoor space
Since baby boomers are typically empty-nesters at this point in their lives, they do not necessarily need an abundance of rooms in the house. This means builders can instead opt to forsake floor space and provide a significant amount of outdoor space. While this generation isn't necessarily going to be hosting parties or entertaining large swaths of guests, they do value community connections. For builders constructing homes in master planned communities, this might not be such a big issue, since these provide ample spaces for community activities. However, despite the draw of neighborly spaces in master planned communities, baby boomers still value the ability to groom their own lawns, while retirees tend to spend significantly more time on landscaping their yards.
- Customization is key
Many baby boomers have reached a point in their life where they are either used to having their home designed to certain specifications, or that's exactly what they're looking to get out of their new home. BuilderOnline recommended including rooms that are flexible and can serve a number of purposes, from home office, artist studio, or a media room.
Baby boomers are rapidly becoming a burgeoning segment of the housing market, and homebuilders need to cater their designs to this demographic.