Builders are increasingly focused on catering to so-called baby boomers, or those aged 55-years and up, with communities designed especially for their needs.
BUILDER reports that baby boomers are perhaps the most significant demographic for homebuilders, as they currently number around 76 million and hold around two-thirds of home equity in the U.S.
And so builders are trying to be proactive in addressing the housing needs of this all-important group. One idea that’s gaining momentum is age-restricted communities, which PulteGroup said is already proving to be a big hit. For example, its recently built “active adult” community Del Webb Bexley in Tampa Bay, Florida, saw more than 800 prospective buyers show up on the first day of an open house event, looking to buy one of just 850 available homes there. Due to the enormous response, PulteGroup says it’s now planning to build additional homes in the area.
Builders say that the retirement communities of yesteryear are unlikely to appeal to the baby boomer generation, and that the focus now is on much smaller-scale developments. Newer communities are also more focused on social activities, while golf and country club-type amenities are becoming less popular. Instead, baby boomers are looking for amenities such as nice restaurants and “pickleball-like setups”, BUILDER reported. They’re also seeking communities that are more accommodating to a variety of age groups, so that they’re children and grandchildren are more willing to visit.
“When it comes to serving the boomers, one size does not fit all,” Char Kurihara, vice president of sales and branding at Elevate Homes, told BUILDER. “Builders should recognize the need to offer multiple products and communities for these buyers.”
And builders are reaping the rewards of these baby boomer-focused efforts. According to BUILDER, 44 of the country’s top 100 building companies now offer an “active adult” line, and 13 of those firms say revenue from this accounts for more than 25% of their sales.
“There are really two groups of people to focus on right now when it comes to building new homes: millennials and baby boomers,” Jeff McQueen, division president at Shea Homes, which offers the Trilogy brand, told BUILDER. “But millennial household formation has been delayed, so, the other option is boomers. There’s been a huge pivot in the last five years, post-recession, where builders are now offering a single-level plan in almost all communities that cater to an empty nest buyer. Whether they call it active adult housing or not, they’re selling to more and more active adult customers.”