Research shows how to build and market properties that will appeal to the younger half of the boomer generation, which has different home buying preferences than their older counterparts.
What do buyers 55 and older want when purchasing a new home? If you’re a developer or broker-owner with salespeople focusing on this market niche, new research may be of interest to you.
Hanley Wood, publisher of Builder magazine, and Taylor Morrison, a national home builder and developer, recently surveyed baby boomer home buyers, finding that the top three influences on their home purchases are location (50.2 percent), price (37.4 percent), and floor plan (19 percent). The study, conducted by The Farnsworth Group, also found that the three most important rooms in a home for this group are the kitchen (82.8 percent), master bedroom (59.2 percent), and great room (36 percent).
“These influential buyers want a fresh start in a vital, connected, accessible new-home environment,” says John McManus, editorial director of Hanley Wood’s Residential Group. “And as millions of baby boomers across the country begin the next phase of their lives, buying the right home is top-of-mind for them.”
In addition, Hanley Wood and Taylor Morrison worked with Grey Matter Research and Consulting to conduct a focus group to capture the first impressions 55-plus home shoppers have when entering a new community. They found that amenities such as a clubhouse, pool, and walking trails played an important factor in home buyers’ decisions. Specifically related to location, the report found that potential buyers wanted new homes close to shopping, dining, and medical services. “There’s a greater value placed on what’s going on outside the house,” McManus says.
The baby boomer generation includes people born between 1946 and 1966. The eldest among this group are now 70, and the youngest are 50. McManus says his company is focusing on the preferences of the younger half, or second-wave baby boomers, as they exhibit different needs than older boomers. “People talk about baby boomers as a homogenous group, but there are very different segments within this generation,” he says. “[The younger boomers] are more connected to multigeneration neighborhoods, and they don’t want as much structure in social programming.”
While the kitchen is the heart of the home for this group, younger boomers are also looking for indoor-outdoor space that’s seamless, McManus says. They are seeking a fun, dynamic lifestyle with a home that can also adjust to their changing needs in the future. Living space should either include accessibility features, such as doorway space, lower shelves, and nonslip surfaces, or be easily adjustable when the time comes.
Hanley Wood and Taylor Morrison are using the feedback from the study and focus group to influence the design and development of the NEXTAdventure Home, a model home that will debut at the International Builders Show Jan. 10 to 12 in Orlando. The 2,268-square-foot house with an open floor plan is located in the Esplanade at Highland Ranch community in Clermont, Fla. Among the features are a kitchen with a large center island and a separate “messy kitchen,” which is a hidden room for storage and entertainment prep. It also includes seamless indoor-outdoor living space with a pool, outdoor kitchen, fireplace, and TV. Smart-home features, such as thermostats, lighting, and security systems, are built in. The home also features two bedrooms and a flex room dubbed “the snore room” for couples who prefer their own space. In fact, Hanley Wood and Taylor Morrison’s research found that one in four couples admit to sleeping in separate bedrooms.
McManus says the research also shows that 55-plus home buyers seek minimal maintenance, yet they want a feeling of privacy around their house. So his company has paid close attention to lot orientation, fencing, and landscaping around the NEXTAdventure Home.
Conducting focus groups and using survey data is an important way to understand your market, says Graham Hughes, chief customer officer for Taylor Morrison, which is something other brokers and developers can take to heart. “Using data effectively has always been key to building homes and communities that truly resonate with home buyers,” he says.
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