Posted in on April 24, 2013

What Do Baby Boomer Buyers Want in A Home?

Urban Land Institute Trends Conference Take-Aways (Part 1)

The big question: “When it comes to a new home, what do Baby Boomers want?” The simple answer: “Everything.”

I recently had the pleasure of moderating an Urban Land Institute (ULI) panel of experts charged with identifying trends in housing Baby Boomers. We had questions. “Do Baby Boomers want to live in the city or suburbs?”  “Do Baby Boomers want smaller homes or larger homes?” “Do Baby Boomers want a vibrant social life in a new community or would they rather age in place?”

The answers (like Baby Boomers themselves) are varied and complex. In today’s post I’ll share trends identified by three of the experts. Tomorrow, I’ll summarize the feelings of a final expert – and add my own thoughts on how to answer the big question in a way that engages Baby Boomers (and helps you meet sales goals).

ULI Report Demonstrates How Baby Boomer Economic Challenges Affect Home Buying ChoicesUrban Land Institute Report- Housing in America: The Baby Boomers Turn 65

John McIlwain, Senior Resident Fellow at The Urban Land Institute started off our panel discussion with highlights from his recently released report  “Housing in America: The Baby Boomers Turn 65.”

This report is a must read for anyone who is involved in Boomer housing.  It shows the increasing economic diversity and wide range of Boomer behavior. Mcllwain provides statistics on incomes and savings that show the critical need for many Baby Boomers to keep working.

He also argues that:
1. The future will not be like the past – It will require many new models.
2. Expect generational conflict as many Boomers out live their savings and require government support.
3. Boomers will need to work longer and are healthier, so just because they are 65 don’t expect a huge interest in retirement communities.

Forget “Senior Ghettos” – Consider Intergenerational Locations

St. John's On The Lake

St. John’s On The Lake
Milwaukee, Wisconsin


Dan Cinelli, Managing Principal, Perkins Eastman talked about some of the CCRC communities he has worked on including Newbridge on The Charles and a high rise community, Saint John’s On The Lake.  These edgy, high style communities are not your traditional retirement communities.

Cinelli encouraged the audience to not only be more innovative in the architecture, but to also look for locations that will allow and encourage Boomers to be part of an inter-generational community.

As an example for the attendees of this ULI panel, we spoke about one of Creating Results’ clients, a brand new 55+ community with access to health, wellness and support services called Fairing Way.  It’s part of a master-planned development which will have its own commuter rail station, walkable downtown, businesses, entertainment  and 2,800 homes. The location provides all the help a person might need as they age, while living in and being part of an energetic all age community.

These Boomer Boots Were Made for Walking (And Shopping)

David Mayhood, President, The Mayhood Company, entirely agreed and emphasized the importance of walkability. His clients are in urban areas and he sees Leading Edge Boomers wanting to be in the middle of it all.

Mayhood also spoke about the critical importance of personalization of interiors far beyond a few options, “When they move they want change – many view this as an opportunity to start over and are excited about getting new furniture, new art work, new friends.”  This is a long way from the Silent Generation buyers wanting to make sure that all their furniture from their big home fits in their new apartment.

What examples have you seen of these trends in action? Please share them in the comments below.

TOMORROW: More take-aways from the Urban Land Institute panel on Baby Boomer housing trends.

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