Why Today’s Seniors Are Buying Real Estate

While the demand for senior residences is on the increase, seniors don’t always want that option. Many simply want to scale back to something more manageable with less maintenance. Thinking ahead or already experiencing some loss in mobility has many looking for single floor homes with easy access. Still others want to be closer to amenities such as the mall, medical services, and entertainment options.

But there are more and more seniors who don’t want to retire to a box, and who expect to carry on with the same life they’ve been enjoying for years. They are active, energetic and thumb their noses at the thought they should slow down or take it easy.

Well, take it easy, maybe, if that means a weekly spa treatment and using up their frequent flyer points with trips all over the world. But for the most part, there is still too much they still want to do to pack it up for the rocking chair and knitting needles. They may want a low maintenance home, but only because they have too many other things they want to do. They may want to keep an RV so they can head off down to the Baja Peninsula or take a week here and there to camp in the great outdoors.

For many, a home and yard still are what they have their heart set on.

They may want to move closer to their grandchildren. Or they may want to accommodate their grandchildren with a multi-bedroom home where they can romp to their hearts content. They may want to live next to a golf course. And they are even looking at buying second properties to serve either as investments or as vacation homes.

They may want to move to be near grand-children. But if they don't, they may need a multi-bedroom home because they anticipate having their children and grand-children as visitors on a regular basis.

With more seniors becoming entrepreneurial, they may want room to operate a small business. Many have dreamed of owning their own business and now they have the freedom to do that.

Fueled by the large boomer demographic, not only are seniors the fastest growing segment of Canada’s population, but this is a consumer group in high transition. In a recent survey conducted by Senior Living, about 42% of respondents said they would be buying, selling or doing both, in the next five years.

These moves are defined by their lifestyle needs and desires, including:

  • Moving into smaller, more efficient homes, preferring to downsize but not downscale (upscale living with less complication)
  • Renovating their current homes
  • Selling their homes and traveling
  • Moving to age-specific residences
  • Buying recreational property
  • Paying more for upgrades in their homes (if it’s to be their last house, they’re going to get everything they want in it)
  • Choosing energy-efficient and high-quality appliances and fixtures
  • Seeking flexibility and accessibility to remain youthful and active

This rapidly expanding consumer group is less affected by current financial stresses than their younger counterparts, and they have substantial equity in their homes as well as greater accumulated wealth.

It’s generally perceived that mature consumers will not change brands. When surveyed, however, these consumers said, “If you better meet my needs, I will switch and I will even pay more."

Today’s seniors want products tailored to their needs and they want quality. While downsizing may be a preference for some, they are still looking for better housing, better locations, and better amenities.

They aren’t approaching their retirement in a stereotypical way. They expect more, they want more, they’re going to get more. They’re going to live life to its fullest and go out with the biggest bang they can make. They’re climbing Mount Kilimanjaro with their grandchildren, trekking the Andes, going on safaris.

One of the main differences is that people are staying health longer. Rather than being finished with having fun, they’re just beginning. Without a job to worry about, they’re ready to take on a world of adventure.

Don’t assume that just because someone is a senior they want to slow down, size down, sit down, and tone down. Ask about their goals and plans. Treat them like any other client, not as a “senior citizen”. You might be surprised at the answers. Equipped with this knowledge, you can help them find the precise property they want.

And finally, watch your language. Terminology like “old folks home” isn’t appropriate anymore. Making “senior jokes” is not appropriate. Treat your client with the same respect you reserve for all your clients and you’ll be fine. And don’t be surprised by the ambition, eagerness and zest with which seniors attack life. It’s a force yet to be reckoned with.

Real Estate / Housing Industry Statistics

  • Represent largest share of home owners for every resale price point
  • Seeking casual, easy living in smaller (but not small) homes
  • Looking to downsize, but not downscale – want upscale living with less complication
  • One in three say they currently have more house than they want or need
  • 50% are likely to move to a more temperate climate
  • They want it all – cozy and comfortable, yet airy and spacious; lots of visitors, but no mess or clutter; no stairs, but room for a stairmaster; less “stuff”, but a place for everything, especially the latest technology; and finally, they want their homes to be energy-efficient and “green”, but with deluxe amenities
  • Nearly two-thirds find communities with an outdoor living focus an appealing option
  • 21% would prefer to stay in current home after retirement
  • 35% would prefer to buy a different or new home
  • 17% would prefer to build a new home
  • 15% would prefer to remodel their current home
  • 12% would like to purchase a second home (allowing them seasonal living)
  • 66% of the Silent Generation (aged 61+) have owned between two to five homes
  • 66% of Baby Boomers (aged 42-60) have owned between two to five homes
  • Baby boomers and older age groups are 70% more likely to own a second home or vacation home than the younger generations
  • 28% of 42+ prefer ranch style homes
  • 18% increase from 1998 to 2006 in awareness around age-restricted communities with more than 13% indicating they are likely or very likely to move to these communities
  • 58% of people in Prairie provinces are likely to remain in current home
  • In BC 32% are most likely to sell up or down size
  • Of those 60+ who own homes, over 60% are mortgage free

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