How to Build for Today’s Boomer Buyers

Baby boomers are a lucrative demographic: The average household aged 52 to 70 years old has a net worth of $1.2 million. With 270,000 boomer buyers retiring each month, there is a lot of opportunity for builders — even those who may not typically build active-adult communities — to capitalize, according to Carrie Roeger, chief operations officer at Windsong Properties and 55+ Housing Industry Council Board of Trustees member. But not all boomer buyers want the same things, she noted. In a recent 55+ Lunch and Learn seminar, Roeger identified three distinct segments of the boomer demographic:
  • Leading Boomer: The oldest segment of boomer buyers may be looking for more care options and accessibility features, in addition to downsizing to meet their lifestyle. Even though they may be 70 or 80 years old, they also may still be taking out 30-year mortgages, so it’s helpful to understand a variety of financing tools, including reverse mortgages.
  • Mid-Boomers: These seasoned empty nesters are retired or close to retirement. They are looking for smaller housing and opportunities to stay active. They also like to travel and entertain in their homes, because they have the time. They may be looking to move — whether it’s across the state or across the country — to be closer to grandchildren.
  • Late Boomer: These buyers are nearing retirement age while also being part-time empty nesters, with college-aged kids who are occasionally home. They also may have older parents living with them. As they’re getting ready to start their next chapter in life, they’re trying to "keep up with the Joneses" — who, in this case, are their millennial children, which means similar TV and social media engagement traits.
There are four overarching features that boomers on the whole are looking for: location, single-level living, customizable spaces and socializing opportunities. The key to building successful products for this expansive demographic, though, is to target one of these niches and cater to their needs. The target demographic will influence not only marketing tactics but decisions such as whether to opt for a full single-level floor plan versus simply incorporating a master on the main level, what finishes to include in the home (e.g., installing grab bars in the shower now or just putting the mechanisms in place) and what amenities to offer in the community. Such features also need to be able to grow with the demographic as they age, as boomer buyers are often purchasing these homes with the intent that it’s the last home they will purchase. "As builders, it’s our responsibility to think about our buyers' needs — not just today but 10 or 15 years later for them," stated Roeger, both in relation to home features and the amenities around a community. Catch the replay to learn more about today's boomer buyer and how smaller communities can compete. Interested in learning more about trends in the 55+ housing industry? Get a quick look into the market at the next 55+ Lunch and Learn series on Sept. 17 at 1 p.m., during which a panel of six industry experts will share 55 tips on how to best meet the needs of the 55+ home buying market.

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