A study on housing trends, released today by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and the MetLife Mature Market Institute (MMI), finds that members of the baby boomer generation, those born in the post-world War II era, are deciding to stay put the rest of their days. But this environment may be shifting, the report notes.
MMI says baby boomer movements, or lack thereof, are likely to reverberate greatly in the housing market.
"The baby boomers' influence on housing choices has been profound, and will have a huge impact on trends in housing for the mature market as that age group continues to move toward retirement," says Sandra Timmerman, director of the MetLife Mature Market Institute. "Some findings, such as the tendency for buyers in 55+ communities to continue to work in greater numbers and for longer periods of time, show us that this group is redefining the traditional notion of retirement to suit their lifestyle choices."
Most Baby Boomers, like their parents, are choosing to "age in place," but more than 1.2m households are more daring and choose to move to communities designed to meet their needs, according to data compiled by the two firms.
Baby Boomers today represent nearly one-quarter of the America population.
The research showed that while most 55+ consumers prefer to stay in their current home as they age, an increasing number (3% compared to 2.2% in 2001) will opt for an age-restricted community designed to attract "active adults" with a heavy emphasis on lifestyle. The analysis also confirmed that while most consumers were generally happy with their current homes, residents of age-restricted active-adult communities had the highest satisfaction rates.
The research noted that those who were residents of multifamily dwellings often sought less expensive homes. Of the Baby Boomers who are close to the traditional retirement age of 65, many are not yet planning to retire, are looking for a community close to their place of employment, or one that allows them to transition into a work-from-home situation. The number of people who chose a community close to work increased from 11.4% in 2001 to 16.6% in 2007.
And while there is increasing interest in age-restricted housing among mature adults, the number of units being built has decreased with the downturn in the economy. Not coincidentally, sales of new homes for active adults have fallen off as interested buyers either cannot sell their current homes, or simply decide to wait for a more stable market.