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Condominiums a Good Fit for Aging Baby Boomers

Builders and developers in the active adult market who are seeking to tap the potential of today’s aging baby boomers and who understand that what worked for previous generations isn’t the answer for this independent-thinking group are finding that the condominium lifestyle is a good fit.

Having just completed a ranch condominium community for our national franchise network, we have identified nine “must-haves” in condominium communities:

• Maintenance-Free Living. This always had been a key selling point for condominiums and will continue to be. Property management handles all the heavy lifting and time-consuming maintenance so home owners can spend time on the things they value most.
• Security. Boomers expect to travel — big time, according to many surveys. This means they don’t want to worry about the safety of their home, cars and favorite things when they are out of town for extended periods of time. Don’t overlook this must-have in your marketing.

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  • Fitness Amenities. Boomers expect to become more physically active in retirement. They see the connection between fitness and long-term health. A must-have is a fitness center up to health club standards with 24-hour access. Paths for walking and cycling and proximity to a golf course, park or nature preserve are all extremely desirable amenities that will make your community more attractive.
  • Location, Location, Location. Unlike previous generations, many boomers don’t want to uproot and start a new life. They want to stay near family, friends and community resources and be close to shopping, entertainment and universities. Successful communities are located where the action is — in large and small metropolitan areas or in smaller, vital towns.
  • Neighborhood Atmosphere. Say goodbye to the traditional, barrack-style image of the condominium community. Boomers are looking for condominium communities that don’t look like condominium communities. For example, our company builds its communities on lushly landscaped grounds and designs them to look like villages of detached single-family homes.
  • Affluent Attitude. The largest segment of the market is looking for an amenity-rich home at an affordable, mid-range price point. While they’re willing to accept limited options, they want sophisticated accents such as fireplaces, ornamental light figures, wood cabinetry and Palladian windows.
  • Spacious Family Hub. Boomers may be downsizing from a larger home, but they still want ample room to entertain family and friends. We’ve found that condominiums with an open floor plan featuring a great room and cathedral ceiling are extremely popular.
  • Age Diversity. Contrary to the traditional formula, boomers don’t want to find themselves surrounded only by retirees like themselves. They want to live in a stimulating community with active adults of all ages or within a larger community of mixed generations. Don’t forget to reflect this diversity in your marketing materials.
  • Lifestyle. With more leisure time, active adults want to socialize, make new friends and belong to a vibrant community. They’re looking for more than housing; they want a lifestyle. They will scrutinize community amenities — the community center, fitness center and pool — because this is where lifestyle begins. Builders who ignore lifestyle proceed at their own peril.

Aging won’t change boomers — they’ll still be savvy customers looking for value and innovation. But by incorporating these nine must-haves in exciting, creative ways, innovative builders are sure to have success winning over the boomer generation to the condominium lifestyle.

Nanette Overly is director of sales and marketing for Dublin, OH-based EPMARK, Inc. She has more than 20 years of experience in the home building profession, with special expertise in marketing communities to active adults and retiring boomers. She has also been active in the Building Industry Assocation of Central Ohio as a Certified Sales Professional Course instructor and was a featured speaker at Building for Boomers & Beyond: Seniors Housing Symposium 2004. More information is available by e mail or call 614-781-1010.

Mark Your Calendar for NAHB's Seniors Housing Symposium 2005

"Building for Boomers & Beyond:" NAHB Seniors Housing Symposium 2005 is scheduled for May 16-18, 2005, in Chantilly, VA. Mark your calendars.

'Analyzing Seniors' Housing Markets' Available at BuilderBooks.com

"Analyzing Seniors' Housing Markets," available at BuilderBooks.com, examines the complexities of seniors' housing markets and explains what developers, investors and other professionals need to know to understand and operate in these specialized niches. The publication familiarizes readers with the various product types and how they relate to the needs of seniors. It also explains market analysis, consumer research, market segmentation, financial analysis, market maturation versus market saturation and gauging performance of seniors' housing. Three case studies of regional markets comparing the development trends of both independent and assisted living within each market are also included. To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665 to order.

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