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When I’m 64! What Boomers Want In Housing

April 30 2010

For home buyers 55 years and older, housing preferences don’t differ substantially from the preferences of younger buyers, until it comes to specific safety features in a home, according to the National Association of Home Builders. 

Older buyers want easy access to their home and its features, and they are happy with less house and grounds to maintain. They want more convenience and are less interested in luxury features.

Easy Access

Where younger and older buyers part ways is in the number of stories they want their next home to have.

Older buyers overwhelmingly prefer single-story homes (79%) vs. two-story homes (15%) or split-level homes (7%.)  By contrast, younger buyers were more flexible, even they also prefer single-stories (52%) to two-stories (39%) and split-levels (9%.)  In addition, older buyers preferred downstairs  master bedrooms (69%) compared to only 12% who prefer the second floor.

Older buyers are more interested in bathroom aids such as grab bars, kitchen aids, step-free entrances, wider doorways, and non-slip floors.

Easy maintenance

Older buyers clearly prefer less maintenance, including fewer bedrooms and baths to clean.

While 52% of younger buyers want four bedrooms or more, only 18% of older buyers want so many. Fifty-one percent of older buyers want three bedrooms and 31% would be happy with one or two, while only 9% of younger buyers want one or two, and 39% want three bedrooms.

Similarly, older buyers want fewer baths to clean, and are happy with two, while younger buyers prefer 2 ½ baths or more. They also need fewer spaces to park cars. While both younger (56%) and older buyers (57%) prefer a one or two-car garage, only 16% of older buyers want three or more spaces, compared to 28% of younger buyers.

They want home repair and outdoor maintenance services available for their home.

More convenience, less luxury

Older homebuyers are less interested in “trophy” features than convenience, according to the “most important” and “least important
 features they want in a home.

The most important features to 55 + buyers are: 

• Washer/dryer inside
• Storage
• Easy-to-open windows
• Garage door opener
• Easy-to-use thermostat
• First-floor master
• Private patio
• Porch
• Attached garage
• Larger bathrooms

Features 55 + buyers don’t care so much about are:

• Kitchen island
• Separate shower
• Private water closet
• Sunroom
• Wood-burning fireplace
• Exercise room
• Home theater
• Surround sound audio
• Home automation

Older buyers want environmental friendly features (60%) but as hybrid car manufacturers learned, are not willing to pay more for them, and their budget for environmentally-friendly features is 25% less than that of younger buyers.

Generally, older buyers want the same things as younger buyers, only a little more or less so.
For example, both younger and older home buyers want their next home to be larger, but it’s the percentages that differ. Younger home buyers want their next home to be 26% larger than their current home, while older buyers would be happy with a modest 1% increase in size.