Active Adults Seek Diverse Lifestyle Options
Much has been written about the active adult market, but if you think that a one-size-fits-all approach will work when designing and building homes for this demographic, you might be surprised.
Active adults are as diverse now as the general population as a whole. New opportunities are available to the builder who thinks about the market niche versus monolithic demographics.
For the purposes of this article, I’m dividing active adults into seven lifestyles that we will look at individually. These include active adults who choose:
1. To Stay in the Family Home
2. An Urban Lifestyle
3. Active Adult Developments
4. Suburban City Centers
5. The Evolving Suburban Model
6. Sustainable Developments
7. Dignified Affordable Housing
Stay in the Family Home
Many active adults feel strongly about remaining in their current home for many reasons, including strong emotional attachments or as a symbol of their accomplishments. A remodel may serve these home owners better than a move to a new home.
Some active adults enjoy the hustle and bustle of the city, and many cities are now offering a wide variety of home styles to satisfy these needs. Whether these active adults have always lived in an urban setting or are looking for something new, urban lofts are a new meeting ground for this group.
Active Adult Developments
A more traditional approach to serving active adult needs, age-restricted communities meet the needs of people who are looking for socializing, security and flexibility. Not just for the Sunbelt anymore, age-restricted communities are being developed in the outskirts of many cities in the North, Midwest and elsewhere to attract active adults who are attracted to that lifestyle and want to stay close to their families and friends.
Suburban City Centers
Many suburbs are recreating a city center approach that incorporates pedestrian-friendly shopping, entertainment and residences. These areas are providing active adults with city center-like amenities and less maintenance in an area closer to their former homes — an attractive option for many.
The Evolving Suburban Model
Urban ideas are moving to the suburbs and often the buyers of these high-density, transportation-oriented developments are active adults who enjoy the mixture of urban benefits in an area that they have always called home.
One example of this is Lincoln Square Lofts in Denver. Not just for active adults, the two 70-unit podium buildings are within walking distance of a new light rail stop that heads straight downtown. In addition to active adults, buyers include young professionals and empty nesters, which proves that some of our active adults have more in common with younger buyers than their contemporaries.
Lincoln Lofts in Denver attracts active adult who have more in common with younger buyers.
Activists of the '60s are quickly becoming today’s active adults. While the elements that make up a sustainable development may be debatable, a segment of the active adult market will be interested in environmentally-friendly new homes that give them the benefits of accessibility and still allow them to be true to their convictions.
Dignified Affordable Housing
Some of our older consumers are going to be cost-conscious and focused on the best value for their money. As designers and builders, we are in a position, through creative solutions, to offer these active adults good choices at reasonable prices. Bayberry Village in Wadsworth, Ohio offers small homes in a lifetime lease situation on a continuing care campus. It has created an affordable option for active adults looking for a long-term housing solution.
Bayberry Village is an affordable and attractive option for active adults.
Many other categories of active adults could be defined, but all of the lifestyles I’ve outlined above offer opportunities for the builder community. If you take a close look, active adults begin to look a lot like the rest of the home buyer community with a few special requests added in. Gone are the days of a one-size-fits-all approach.
As you start developing your next active adult community, explore the active adult lifestyle niche you can best serve and be open to a creative solution for a new market opportunity through diversity.
Doug Van Lerberghe is the senior project manager for the Denver-based KEPHART architecture and design firm and has designed master planned communities, high density in-fill concepts and a wide range of multifamily for sale projects in the Southeast, Midwest and West. He is vice chair of the Seniors Housing Awards Design Committee and an active member of the Seniors Housing Council. For more information, visit the KEPHART Web site, e-mail Van Lerberghe or call him at 303-832-4474.
Find Out What the 55+ Market Wants
“Boomers on the Horizon,” available through BuilderBooks.com, can help you better build and market homes to this age group. Capitalize on the niches, needs and opportunities of this rapidly growing market by learning their preferences. To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.