After the NAHB and MetLife Mature Market Institute released the report, “Housing for the 55+ Market: Trends and Insight for Boomers and Beyond” (PDF), the Internets were just aflutter with articles & conversation about it. After just a few days, the article from NAHB’s site was re-posted on hundreds of websites; most of the sites re-posted the NAHB article verbatim and with no (or very little) commentary. I shouldn’t fail to mention that the Twitter-verse was nuts with it for a few days, as well.
Why do I find that surprising? I don’t really; neither should you. It was relevant information from key players in the mature/housing field. Why am I talking about it then?
First, I think that some people have misinterpreted the report or they did not understand it’s focus. It does not say anything about Baby Boomers bucking the aging in place trend. (It doesn’t even mention “aging in place”.) What it does speak to is the apparent housing trends for 55+ age group. It specifically mentions ideas such as, this age group’s feeling about their current housing, how age restricted neighborhoods are attracting more people under 60 who still work, amenities that the 55+ age group find appealing in age restricted neighborhoods, the reasons they move and more. Perhaps the title of the NAHB article about the report confused some people. (“Most Baby Boomers Prefer to Age in Place, But Growing Numbers Head to Age-Restricted Communities“) I guess some people could misconstrue that as an either/or statement or that the first part of the title excludes the second part. Surely the NAHB didn’t intend it to be taken that way.
Second, I’ve read the report and think the information is of paramount importance to aging in place professionals. (Yes, including those of you that are not in construction.) It provides more documented insight into the housing preferences of this age group than I’ve ever seen. Greater still, it gives you, the small business owner, an opportunity to peer deeper into the things that are important to Boomers. I think it needs to be paid attention to. (And, by that, I mean if you haven’t read through it, you should.)
A brief intermission for those who are having a problem getting past the title of the NAHB article.
We’ll skip over the obvious with the “age in place” part of the title and focus on, “But Growing Numbers Head to Age-Restricted Communities.” Let’s delve into the meat of the report for a second and talk again about the ideas in it. (The bullet point below liberally copied from the report.)
- 71% of those 55+ do not live in age-restricted or age-qualified housing.
- The share of those living in active adult age-restricted communities grew from 2% in 2001 to 3% in 2007 (That’s a significant increase.)
- Main reasons for moving to a 55+ owner-occupied community were family or personal reasons, financial or employment reasons, and the desire to have a higher quality home.
- Home and community location relative to work location are important for 55+ households.
- Many Households Report Having Access to Open Spaces and Recreational Facilities
- Age-Qualified Active Adult Homes Are More Often Near Water, in a Gated Community, and in Communities with Recreational Facilities
- Community Nuisances Are Less Common Among 55+ Households
- Not Many Trends for Neighborhoods of 55+ Households, Except for Increase in Satisfaction with Shopping and Slight Reduction in Street Noise
- Older Households Are Less Interested in Moving into a Larger Place
- Many Households Moving into Age-Restricted Rental Homes Are Looking for Better Quality and Less Expensive Housing
- The Share of High-Income Households in the Age-Qualified Active Adult Market Is on the Rise
- Households Moving into New Age-Qualified Active Adult Communities Are Trading Up in Quality, but Not Necessarily Price
- One-Fifth of All Home Buyers Are Age 55+ and Their Share Is Rising
Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but none of that says, “We don’t want to age in place.” In my opinion, it says, “We know what we want and that’s what we’re going to have.” Developers do not build age-restricted neighborhoods without doing a little research. They know Baby Boomers have the most spendable income, like to have their homes/neighborhoods “just so” and are willing to pay for it. They want to choose and maintain their quality of life, on their terms.
Here is the reality for local aging in place business owners
It is natural for Boomers to make these choices. We all are interested in maintaining as active as possible lifestyle for as long as we can. We all have preferences to how/where we like to live.
Aging in place is a process, not a destination. It is one piece of the golden years puzzle; it is not the end-all answer. A Boomer couple moving into a home in an age-restricted community only means that they may just spend their aging in place years there.
This trend is irrelevant in terms of your aging in place business at a local level. You should not care where they are located, as long as you have access to them to provide your product or service. The needs that aging in place is struggling to answer will be present whether or not you live in an apartment in the city or home in an age-restricted community. These needs will have to be met regardless of location.
So, read the report; you may learn some important info. Focus on meeting the needs of older people in your community and being a resource for them. Focus on being an anchor for your clients and someone who can be trusted. The benefits will take care of themselves.
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More to come …
PS I wanted to start this post with,, “Newsflash: Boomers prefer to age in place.” But, I didn’t think most readers would find that nearly as amusing as I would. (Mostly because I’ve read that line so many times over the last few years. But, that’s another story entirely; maybe for another time.)