Rethinking the 55+ Market
Posted: 01 May 2014 04:00 AM PDT
I am excited to have Nikki Buckelew back as our guest blogger for today. Nikki is considered a leading authority on seniors real estate and housing. –
Many Seniors here in the Boston Suburbs are active and fit. I rarely see an under 60 person looking to move to an over 55 community. I do see many people in their 70’s and 80’s looking to stay in Newton and Brookline but there is nowhere for them to move. Many of these Senior’s live in very large big old Victorians and the thought of moving into a 2 bedroom condo or small house is not feasible. There is a huge market for townhouses with first floor master bedrooms with 2 beds and a bath upstairs. These Seniors are engaged with their children and grandchildren and want room for them to stay. They don’t want a retirement community or an over 55+ community. They would like to live in a neighborhood with all age types. I find that it’s not until Seniors are in their late 70’s and have had at least one health scare do they even consider an over 55+. We just moved my 87-year-old mother in law into an Independent Living Community in NJ. I can tell you she was scared to death to be with all those “old” people, she now loves it! But what about the rest? Where are the late 60’s to early 70’s going to go? They no longer want to hassle with home maintenance and repairs, they don’t want to hire the landscapers or the snow plowing, or the exterior painter.
Many sellers also just don’t know where to begin. We have people to help you with that. Check out Laurie Norman’s website Next Stage Associates. Laurie’s services are unrivaled and her prices are extremely competitive.
Builders, decide what the next big thing is…it’s here. Townhouse with first floor master bedrooms or flats that are large, in a community that appeals to young, middle-aged and older.
Someone said to me recently, “Sixty-five is the new forty-five.” We chuckled, but the more I thought about it, the more I found myself in full agreement.
With more and more people working beyond traditional retirement age and the advances in modern medicine, the lines between middle and late adulthood are becoming a bit blurred.
What makes this relevant in the world of real estate?
As our population ages, we will see more and more organizations dedicating their marketing efforts toward the “senior” demographic. You have read previous KCM blogs about the various designations agents can earn for this specific purpose, and undoubtedly you have already seen real estate professionals in your market professing to “specialize”.
Reality check — not all seniors are the same.
Just as with using any label, we run the risk of putting people into a category when they may or may not actually belong there. This is especially true of the senior segment.
Despite the label of “senior,” there are 3 distinct types of moves you may encounter as a real estate professional — all three involve seniors, but they aren’t based necessarily on age. You see, age is not a good predictor of relocation. Instead, people generally make changes in residence based on life circumstances.
Listed below are the three primary types of moves made by those labeled as seniors:
Move #1: Amenity-based
These individuals and/or couples are seeking a certain type of lifestyle and their home is only one component of a much larger picture. When looking to sell, they are usually transferring their equity from one home to the next and can usually either pay cash or put a significant down payment towards their purchase. Depending upon employment status, they may be moving across the country for more appealing climates or seeking a place near an airport making it easier to commute. Some are moving closer to kids and grandkids, while others are moving to destination locations where the family can enjoy visiting.
Social engagement, including quality family and friend connectedness, are key decision-making elements.
Move #2: Anticipatory / Planning
As people age, they may begin to experience changes in personal health status or become the caregiver of a spouse requiring additional care. When this occurs, people may find their current home unmanageable or no longer suited for their current situation. Moving means simplifying and making preparations for future care needs and support. With this type of move, seniors are typically looking to either buy or lease a property with minimal maintenance, accessibility features, and in close proximity to quality healthcare. Family members and adult children may be called upon at this stage to assist, and will often have some influence in the relocation process.
Access to formal and informal support, as well as low maintenance and accessibility features, are primary decision-making factors.
Move #3: Needs-based
While most people intend to live independently until they die, unfortunately, this reality isn’t always possible. As health declines to the point where more support is needed than can be provided for within the person’s home and community, relocation is necessary. This move may involve selling the personal residence and relocating to a senior living community or into the home of a family member. In many cases, needs-based moves involve caregivers and/or family members as additional decision makers. Late-life moves involving frail elderly or those experiencing illnesses or disease processes can be highly emotionally charged and necessitate a level of empathy in addition to real estate competency.
Timing, health status, and caregiver support are keys to decision-making.
As you can see from these various different types of moves, not all seniors share the same housing needs and goals. And while specializing in the 55+ housing market appeals to many, there are actually many sub-niche opportunities within the senior segment worth exploring.
Regardless of whether you choose to make working with mature home buyers and sellers a part of your overall business plan, with at least 1 in 4 home sellers over the age of 65, there is little doubt you will work with older adults in the course of your general real estate practice. When encountering these opportunities, it will serve you well to consider the three types of moves listed here and evaluate your value proposition accordingly, so that you can be the very best agent possible for your mature clients.