When it comes to real estate, one’s generation will often dictate much of their real estate habits. From home size to location and even the type of home people are buying, a person’s generation plays a huge role in determining what type of home is right for their needs. For Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) and Seniors (Born in 1945 or earlier), certain trends are occurring. Here’s a closer look at how these two generations are choosing to spend their home-buying money.
The Majority of Buyers Still Want Single-Family Homes
Though the numbers may be smaller than younger generations, the majority of Boomers and Seniors that are actively looking for homes, 63 and 55 percent respectively, prefer to buy single-family, detached homes. Though some of these older generations are opting for condos or similar properties, the majority of buyers in these generations want autonomy over their own space.
Boomers and Seniors Aren’t Selling
Interestingly, many of these older generations are staying in place. In 2000, Boomers were responsible for 43.5 percent of the homeowners in the country. By 2010, that had dropped to 42 percent, just a 1.5 percent decrease. In 2019, the number is 41 percent.
This trend is interesting because it is not what prior generations have done. In prior years, older generations sold their homes and moved to “retirement communities” or became renters, resulting in an influx of homes for sale. The Boomers and many younger seniors have not followed this common trend. Instead, many are opting to “age in place,” staying in their homes for much longer in their senior years.
Those that do sell, to downsize, or to move closer to family aren’t typically becoming renters. Instead, they are re-entering the market as buyers. This creates a potential problem for younger buyers in Maryland and other states, as they are finding fewer homes for sale.
Older Generations Want Specific Features in a Home
Though many Boomers and even some Seniors are opting to stay in their own homes longer, some are choosing to move to homes that are more in line with their needs and health. The features that these generations want in a home include:
- Single-story properties
- First-floor laundry facilities
- Home with less than 1900 square feet
- Exterior lighting
- Energy-efficient appliances and windows
Interestingly, most Seniors and Boomers reported wanting a home less than 1900 square feet, and the average size purchased for these generations was just over 1,870 square feet.
These older buyers prefer homes with three bedrooms and 54 percent of Boomers and 49 percent of Seniors indicated three bedrooms as ideal. Only 20 percent of either generation wanted four or more bedrooms, compared to nearly half of Millennials.
Home Features Important to Baby Boomers
While Seniors and Boomers have many similarities in what they want in a home, they also have some key differences. Many Boomers are either still working or are quite active with their hobbies, which means they need a home that is conducive to those activities. They are also looking for comfort and convenience.
Even when Maryland Boomers choose to downsize their homes, they will prefer homes with high-end finishes and a luxury appearance. Wood floors and granite countertops, for example, are desirable features.
Many Boomers want low-maintenance properties, so features like brick siding instead of painted siding or homes in neighborhoods with homeowner’s associations that offer included yard maintenance are popular.
The neighborhood of choice is also unique for Boomers. Instead of moving to a neighborhood or retirement community made of many who are the same age, this generation wants to live in an active, diverse community with people of all ages. They want walkability, and they want amenities like activity centers, healthcare, and shopping. These features help them maintain an active retirement and also provide the option for part-time work if desired.
Home Features Important to Seniors
As the older of the two generations, Seniors have different needs when it comes to their housing choices. Many seniors are choosing to downsize, as their abilities to maintain a home require a smaller space. These buyers tend to purchase newer homes that require minimal upkeep and tend to use an open house as a means to determine which home is right for their needs. They want homes with minimal stairs and in safe neighborhoods. They seek home located near community amenities, including medical care and grocery stores.
Few seniors use terms like “universal design” or “aging in place” when shopping for a home, but they do appreciate features that allow for these. More accessible rooms and bathrooms with accessible bathing stations are appealing, even if seniors do not use the buzz words surrounding these features.
Reason for Moving Consistent Between Seniors and Boomers
Both Seniors and Boomers have a variety of reasons for moving, but in a National Association of REALTORs survey the largest percent, 22 percent for Boomers and 27 percent for Seniors, reported wanting to move to live closer to friends or family. Downsizing was a second leading reason, with 13 percent of Boomers and 17 percent of Seniors reporting this reason.
What does all of this mean for the Maryland home buying and selling market? Because older homeowners are not in a hurry to sell, many young buyers may find fewer options on the market. These trends are not going to change soon, so buyers need to be prepared with their financing in place so they can make competitive offers when they do find homes that fit their needs.