Builder confidence in the 55+ senior housing market, according to the National Association of Home Builders’ 55+ Housing Market Survey. The two major sub-markets for this demographic are the single-family and multifamily condominium home buyer markets. One of the factors contributing to builder confidence is the slow, steady increase in sales of existing homes. The 55+ market “is strongly driven by consumers being able to sell their existing homes at a favorable price,” says NAHB Chief economist David Crowe.
With builder confidence in the 55+ market running high, it’s a good idea to understand what, exactly, seniors are looking for when they buy homes. According to a recent article by Forbes, there are 6 major considerations seniors have when buying a new home: renting, buying, cost, neighbors, location and meals. Builders who plan to serve this burgeoning market need to keep those things in mind. Seniors who plan to purchase a new property rather than rent a residence are looking for a solid cost-to-square footage ratio and good community amenities. They also demand close proximity to health care, grocery shopping, and healthy restaurants with robust take-out offerings.
When building for a senior demographic, it helps to understand that today’s seniors—of whom there are 77 million in the continental US, with the number growing every day—wish to remain active mentally and physically. And they need to do so economically, because the economic downturn left the average boomer $500,000 short of the cash they need to have the lifestyle they prefer. This has left many seniors in a state of part-time employment and semi-retirement and working from home. Amenities such as public transit, continuing education course providers, pre-wired broadband or T1 line, and home office space are as important for seniors as for young professionals.
The most important thing for investors in the senior housing market to realize is that buyers are looking at properties that will continue to meet their health and social needs as the progress from independent living, to assisted living, to full-time care. Properties that can be easily modified to meet future healthcare needs are much more appealing than those that aren’t.