Retirees have traditionally been known to move to places with moderate climates, play golf, and spend their time in leisure. However, the Baby Boomer generation is quite different — more adventurous and freedom-seeking by nature. As Baby Boomers retire, they will plan their retirement exactly how they want it, which cues agents to take note.
Nine million Boomers now reside in California. 75% of them were homeowners in 2014. Within the next decade, the number of retiree households in the U.S. will increase by nearly 11 million.
As the Boomers begin to retire, many will seek new housing to accommodate the needs of their change in habits. With added longevity and fewer obligations, they will reign over home sales by doubling down in their retirement — selling and buying in tandem.
Where will Boomers go?
With more financial freedom, Boomers have several options for how and where they retire. This includes:
- selling their current home and buying another, upsizing or downsizing in the process;
- moving to a different city, county, state or country;
- refurbishing their current home;
- leaving suburbia for city life; or
- moving into a rental, usually a temporary housing situation for Boomers.
Many suburban Boomers will turn to urban environments with plenty of social and cultural activities not convenient or available in suburbia. They seek easy access to coffee shops, wellness centers, cultural events, parks and walking trails.
Other Boomers free of the anchor of a job will choose to relocate closer to their children and grandchildren, who typically live in high-skilled urban environments. The desire for flexible, senior-friendly communities creates greater demand for home builders to design senior housing developments tailored to these needs. High rise buildings quickly come to mind.
Since Boomers are a generation of homeowners, they will typically continue to own. Maintaining their homeownership status means there will be a growing need for properties with accessibility features and amenities. Agents need to take note of areas which offer these features as these areas which will draw most Boomer business in the coming decades.
Real estate industry groups are advocating for multiple listing services (MLSs) to provide a searchable field in property listings for agents to display accessibility features, including:
- extra-wide hallways and doorways to accommodate wheelchairs;
- first-floor master bedrooms and bathrooms;
- entry thresholds that are level with the sidewalk or entry ramps;
- grab bars in bathrooms;
- lever doorknobs and faucets;
- low-profile carpeting;
- roll-in showers; and
- lowered countertops, cabinets and light switches.
These MLS features will come soon as agents demand a standard method for searching accessibility features for this exploding Boomer market.
Related article: Accessibility features in the MLS may be coming soon
The relocation of Boomers coupled with Generation Y’s (Gen Y’s) entry into the housing market will boost home sales volume in the upcoming years. This Great Confluence of seniors and Gen Y will take place creating a boom-like housing market for California — a shift in activity from the current sales volume plateau.
Related article: Boomers retire, and California trembles
What’s next for Boomers?
Retirees will be one of the major driving forces for home sales, both in volume and pricing. Several California real estate brokers already cater to the Baby Boomer niche market which will grow for a decade or more.
Agents need to familiarize themselves with Boomer demanded amenities available in and around the neighborhoods they service. Boomers will most likely seek agents they consider knowledgeable to assist them with their relocation needs. Farming them to groom their thinking is branding that will inevitably help grow business, and in tandem, fees.
Related article: FARM letters