This decade will see a full 25% of the US population over the age of 55. Current estimates have it that percentage households where the primary resident is over 55 will increase from the current average of 38% to 45% in the next decade. Homeownership by this demographic is the highest of any and is pegged at over 80%. Needless to say it is an important segment of the market.
While current economic realities have made downsizing a general trend – the list of wants and needs of the senior population is actually growing. Builders who want to appeal to this segment of the market need to tap into these needs as they prepare to build the next generation of homes.
With all the emphasis in recent years on high tech homes it is interesting to note that the majority of wish list items for senior buyers are for much more practical things. Home that feature single level living, large baths, wide doors and hallways and easy to use/read thermostats are on the list. Predictions are that as the baby boomers see their parents through this stage of their lives they will be making notes of the things that make life easier and looking for that in their future retirement homes.
It is not just the seniors looking for a change in what they want from their home. New trends are developing where flexible space and more casual living space is in demand by all age groups. Think about it, when was the last time you really had a use for a formal living room or dining room? Open, free flowing spaces are what it is all about. Another big change is the home office or study space. With the computer now a common household appliance a flexible space that can be used for this is highly desirable. The days of having to sacrifice a whole bedroom for a home office may soon be fading.
Outside more people are looking for outdoor living spaces and the traditional golf course communities may be threatened. Studies are starting to show more people looking for green space – bike paths, walking trails than golf course off limits to all but golfers.
Green homes or energy efficient homes are not yet highly in demand. Most consumers understand and will go for energy efficient appliances and windows and doors but there is not a large movement yet toward a demand for the more expensive “green” building technologies. I predict that these things will only catch on as the price comes down and the builders can incorporate it for the same or little extra as standard materials. Much like the first electric cars were strange oddities that we looked at at car shows. Now every automaker is falling into line with a mass market hybrid version to market.
Think about what you would change about your house you have now if you could. What new technologies would you want to see? What rooms would add/change or delete all together? What would make up your list of “must haves” and what would be a “could do without”? Interesting for sure!