Economic growth has been relatively strong during the last decade and mature adults between the ages of 55 and 75 are more financially comfortable than their parents. They are better educated, more active and more inclined to move into a social environment shared by their age-group peers.
Active Adult Buyers Are No Longer Just Moving to the Sun Belt
Analysis of our readers’ moving preferences during the past six years indicates that active adults today are not only moving to the Sun Belt states, they are moving from them as well.
Connecticut, for example, is attracting active adults from across the country. Active adults primarily are moving to Connecticut from nearby New York, Massachusetts and New Jersey. However, the next three states they are leaving in favor of the “Nutmeg State” are traditional Sun Belt states — Florida, California and Arizona — followed by Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Virginia.
Like Connecticut, each state has its own distinct active adult migration pattern and feeder states. Some of the reasons active buyers move to different states and locations are corporate relocations, a desire to be closer to their adult children or college/alma mater, downsizing or simply to return to their family roots. Understanding the migration pattern of a particular state or area will help marketers target potential buyers better.
Active Adult Buyers Have Expanded Their Housing Choices
Traditionally, mature adults remained in their primary residences in their later years or moved into retirement communities in the Sun Belt. While traditional retirement communities in warm-weather states will continue to attract active adult home buyers, today's active adults now have a greater variety of choices, and many of those choices are not far from home.
They now can move into age-qualified developments built by national and local builders in their own communities — with housing ranging from villas, condominiums and cluster homes to detached single-family homes.
In its May issue, Builder magazine reported that seven of the top 10 builders in the country — including the top five — built active adult communities, several in northern states. Del Webb, the active adult brand for Pulte that first developed its Sun City communities in the Sun Belt, initially branched out into the Frost Belt in the late 1990s when it created its first northern mega-community northwest of Chicago. Today, Del Webb is building active adult communities in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.
In addition to finding age-qualified communities closer to home, many active adults are moving into them at an earlier age than their predecessors, often as they turn 55. Previous retirees typically moved into retirement communities when they turned 65 or older.
To Active Adult Buyers, Amenities Are Everything
Since many of today’s active adults are more comfortable and financially secure, they expect more amenities and services. They are seeking maintenance-free exteriors, spacious and open floor plans, luxurious clubhouses, comprehensive fitness centers, state-of-the-art security systems and more. Builders also are equipping homes with cutting-edge wiring to power the advanced technology active adult buyers want.
Recent focus group studies across the country have found that buyers want diversity when it comes to design, so builders should offer a variety of exterior elevations, materials and floor plans. Exterior landscaping also is important as are community clubhouses. Clubhouses promote camaraderie in a community, which for builders also can mean more satisfied customers, more referrals and enhanced sales in the final phases of a project.
Jane Marie O’Connor is the president of 55+ Marketing and publisher of Mature Living Choices in New England, a full-color, digest-sized quarterly resource guide for active adults. Based in Hawley, MA, O'Connor provides coaching and training services for the 55+ market for developers, builders and real estate agencies. O’Connor also is an active member of the 50+ New England Housing Council and the NAHB Seniors Housing Council. She can be reached at 800-782-1722, via e-mail at jane@55PlusMarketing.com, or visit her Web site, 55+ Marketing, for more details.
Attend the 2005 Seniors Housing Symposium in Metro Washington, D.C. Area
Learn more about the fastest-growing segment of the housing market. Plan to attend Building for Boomers & Beyond: Seniors Housing Symposium 2005, the premier educational and networking event for industry professionals serving the burgeoning 50+ market. For more information, click here.
'Boomers on the Horizon' Available at BuilderBooks.com
Capitalize on the niches, needs and opportunities of the rapidly growing 55+ market by learning their preferences in "Boomers on the Horizon: Housing Preferences of the 55+ Market", available at BuilderBooks.com. To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665 to order.
Learn More About Seniors Housing Through the Seniors Housing Council
To learn more about seniors housing, join the NAHB Seniors Housing Council. The council provides information, education, networking and recognition opportunities for its members and represents NAHB on seniors housing issues. For more details, e-mail Jeff Jenkins or call him at 800-368-5242 x8292.
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