The new generation of retirees are setting buying trends that differ significantly from the choices made by seniors a decade or so ago, say realtors who specialize in the 50-plus demographic.
Today's retirees are more active, healthier, living longer, and bring with them a staunch refusal to give in to "old age." As a result, their buying choices reflect a desire to stay active and enjoy life to its fullest.
This often means downsizing to properties with less maintenance, allowing the flexibility of travel or the pursuit of personal hobbies - some will move to smaller homes, some will renovate their existing home and others will use the equity from the sale of their home to travel. One size, as they say, does not fit all.
Royal LePage president Phil Soper says Canadians aged 50-plus are defying conventional notions of old age by redefining how and where they want to live.
"Today, with longer life expectancies, better health and more wealth, the 50-plus group have a plethora of options available to them and there is no longer one best practice. This group is not interested in sitting around in rocking chairs and knitting. They are more interested in white-water rafting."
Some look to 55+ residences to surround themselves with people of similar age and interests. These residences can range from private condominium dwellings and townhouses to gated communities with single dwelling rancher-style homes. Other retirees, however, enjoy the stimulation that comes from a community in which people of all ages live - these buyers want to relocate into housing developments that cater to the broader spectrum of ages, but they still want the benefits of less maintenance and the ability to pack their bags and go, knowing their property will remain secure and well tended in their absence.
Seniors will increasingly opt for condos that have an array of premium services available, believes Ted Tsiakopoulis, an Ontario economist with CMHC . The neuvo-condo will have gyms staffed with personal trainers, theatres, pools, restaurants, spas, concierge services, and 24-hour on-site security.
For the more adventuresome, seasonal properties are an attractive addition to their real estate portfolio, especially for those who want to flee the rainy or overcast winters to more tropical climates for an extended period of time. They are looking for their "second home" in places like Arizona, Mexico, Costa Rica, Malaysia and even Australia. Developments are springing up in all these areas, ready to serve the needs of these Canadian snowbirds.
Many people, when they hit their late 50s, begin thinking about where they want to settle in the next stage of their lives. For some, the consideration of future deteriorating health plays a big factor in their decision. They look for properties with little upkeep, that have few or no mobility barriers such as stairs, and that are part of a secure community. Rancher-style houses and condominiums with elevators are an increasing perfect fit.
The marketplace is already starting to feel the effects of these buying trends. And as the 50+ demographic continues to grow, the need for more housing to match the lifestyles of these retirees is going to become even greater.
In a survey, one in three people aged 50-plus said they currently have more house than they want or need.
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.