As a realtor, I’ve learned that buyer preferences are the best measuring stick for what trends are on the rise. Today, boomers are hitting retirement age and moving out of their estate homes in search of more attractive packages that can add comfort, reduce maintenance efforts and put a little money back in their pockets.
But what factors are most important to consider when trying to appeal to this particular the market? It’s likely that their perfect choice will mean building an individualized home in a community that fits their lifestyle.
Retirement should offer a chance to travel, experience a convivial social atmosphere and explore a new lifestyle. But retirees often hold back initially, knowing that their first sacrifice might be their homes. The solution is “right-sizing,” or investing in a home and lifestyle that shows off individual tastes and minimizes unused or wasted space. While right-sizing may mean moving into a smaller house, it does not mean compromising on quality.
The word “downsizing” simply doesn’t align with retirees’ desire to enjoy the luxury items that they’ve become accustomed to in their homes and communities. In fact, the most recent National Association of Realtors® (NAR) report on Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends indicates that the older the homebuyer, the fewer compromises they were willing to make with their home purchase. Instead, they consider right-sizing as a way to repurpose their time and money into further exploring their retirement lifestyle, instead of inundating themselves in house upkeep.
Have a lifestyle in mind
Take the time to thoroughly evaluate a setting that will support that lifestyle. Although there are plenty of low-cost alternatives to living in the city, it’s not necessary to abandon a rich entertainment and social scene and head out to the countryside. For example, college towns and their surrounding areas have gained momentum as appealing mixtures of culture and affordability. Not only can residents enjoy the seclusion of a stand-alone home, but they are often just minutes away from a variety of cultural attractions and sporting events. These locations also typically offer a number of lifelong learning resources that are attractive educational opportunities for retirees.
Boomers typically consider a variety of factors in addition to location. Most importantly, they often want exceptional healthcare consistent with major urban facilities. Fortunately, many hospitals in small to mid-sized cities now offer more quality care initiatives than ever before. For those who plan to travel frequently, proximity to a major airport is a requirement. Many also want to remain close to a major metropolitan area to drive in for a special event, or to the beach for a weekend getaway.
Additionally, new retirees are gravitating toward an individualized lifestyle in which they can select activities and meet other boomers who share similar interests. To that end, many country-club-style communities sell themselves as offering something for everyone, whether a bridge club, fitness class or golf league. For most boomers, a more relaxed and less regimented social agenda is preferable to an active adult community, which caters to an older generation.
See around the corners
Without an entire family in the home, most boomers are not looking for a new space that’s similar in size. In fact, 91 percent of boomers no longer have children residing with them, which makes the first years of retirement an opportune time to transition into an amenity-rich home that minimizes wasted space. With the multitude of options available for right-sizing, it should be easy to find high-quality amenities at a standard rate. Right-sizing means retired homeowners don’t have to cut spending on entertainment, vacation and other luxury items.
Eighty-six percent of boomers have bought a home before, and on average, view more homes before buying than any other age bracket. They realize that affordability is only one aspect of right-sizing, and their reluctance to sacrifice value often suppresses the desire to find a new home. But realize that finishes such as lofted ceilings, porcelain tubs, tiled showers, big closets, center kitchen islands, granite countertops and crown moldings are necessities for many retirees.
In addition to high-quality amenities, boomers take additional aging-in-place features into account. For example, design features like easy-turn doorknobs and step-less showers are the kinds of minor additions that will allow them to remain in their homes as they continue to age. Also, having the master bedroom on the main floor is a critical feature that is becoming more common in new construction, especially among country-club communities.
Thoughts for the future
Your clients shouldn’t have to compromise on a unique personal property that will be the cornerstone of their retirement. Whether their vision for retirement revolves around a desire to travel, spend more time with their spouse or enjoy a broader social network, a more satisfying lifestyle is well within reach.
Their most exciting adventure begins with their new home. It’s an investment more about future contentment than about finances, and understand that there are a wide variety of options that can meet their needs. There is no doubt that Boomers are in the best position of any generation, past or present, to make quality affordable – right-sizing is the first step in that journey. )
Kathy Phillips is an onsite sales associate at The Georgia Club, a premier golf and country club community located in Statham, Ga.