It is no secret that as more than 76 million Baby Boomers enter their empty-nesting years many are rethinking their housing situation. Affluent Boomers whose children have flown the coup are fueling a new housing spurt; and according to Fannie Mae's 2002 National Housing Survey results, nearly 31 percent of Baby Boomers said they are very or fairly likely to buy a home in the next three years.
In fact, a recent Associated Press article states that the newest trend in homebuilding is "aging in place." Healthy people still in their 50's are preparing for a comfortable retirement by designing homes they will be able to live in for the rest of their lives.
Empty nesters want all the amenities of suburbia without the usual maintenance and upkeep of a home. Real estate marketing analyst, Sandra Kull says, "This is a new type of retirement. This generation is active. They don't want to move to Florida or Phoenix. They want to stay closer to their children and grandchildren."
So what are they looking for? Empty nesters are downsizing to smaller houses designed with an open floor plan. The first floor often consists of a master bedroom, a bathroom suite and a laundry room, while two guest bedrooms often take up the second floor. After two decades of unprecedented economic growth, millions of Baby Boomers are well prepared for retirement, allowing them some added "extras" in their new homes. Sunrooms and porches are hot commodities among these buyers. A recent Associated Press article reports that aging Baby Boomers also prefer wider hallways, nonslip floors, bathroom grab bars and adjustable shower seats.
While Boomers are rethinking housing needs in general, many desire a more accommodating bathroom. A survey conducted by American Standard, a company whose bathroom products have been a household name for more than a century, revealed that Baby Boomers desire larger bathrooms with luxurious amenities. This is not a shocking revelation, as over the past decade, master bathroom suites have grown substantially larger and larger. More and more it is becoming common to see a master bathroom suite that rivals the master bedroom in size. In addition, Baby Boomers are longing for luxuries now that their kids are gone. Survey results reveal that in this category, the dream bathroom would include a whirlpool, a complete shower system and/or a double sink vanity. Baby Boomers also would like to decorate their bathroom with a skylight, install a heated tile floor, a stereo, heated towel bars and a television or VCR.
As you know, 1997 tax law revisions allow home sellers to exclude up to $500,000 in capital gains from taxation. This has encouraged many of the baby boomers to sell their primary residence, downsize and use the profits to invest in a second home. Because of this trend, Baby Boomers do not want the hassle of a primary residence that is old and requires a lot of maintenance.
Aging Baby Boomers are the driving force in most segments of the American economy, calling for local builders to change their designs to fit the needs of this active generation of homebuyers. The next ten years will bring a continued focus on providing this market with the lifestyle they seek. Local homebuilders will continue to showcase maintenance free living with all the luxuries of suburbia that these Boomers so richly deserve.