Feb 14, 2018

Housing Trends

Tips For Your Next Active Adult Project

Baby Boomers are in a good place financially and drive a lot of today’s housing activity. The all-time highs in the stock market and positive equity for many homeowners disproportionately benefit the Boomers as many have their retirement savings in 401Ks and already own homes. These facts alone make Baby Boomers an interesting cohort to target for your next housing project. Our Director of Economic Research, Ali Wolf, analyzed the data from Zonda about active adult (AA) communities* to showcase where the most development is occurring.

Baby Boomer Trends

  • Roughly 275,000 Boomers retire each month and 10,000 turn 65 each day
  • Boomers control two-thirds of the country’s wealth
  • Older Boomers tend to be on a fixed income and are oftentimes more price sensitive
Northeast And Sunbelt Offer The Most AA Options

New York, Phoenix, and Philadelphia Core-Based Statistical Areas (CBSA) currently have the most actively selling AA communities in the US. Our Principal of Advisory, Mollie Carmichael, explains, “This list is more supply driven than demand. In many of these markets, builders are able to get communities entitled and financially viable by focusing on AA.”

The New York CBSA includes cities across New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut, but many of the AA communities fall within the New Jersey suburbs. The New Jersey developments allow those in the Northeast to remain close to kids and grandkids, while enjoying the quality of life of the Jersey coast. The focus on staying near to family isn’t unique to New York; builders have been successful across the country by offering AA communities typically within an hour drive of a major city.

Looking at the breakdown of attached versus detached homes, the product offering depends a lot on the market. For example, the AA homes in Phoenix mimic the overall market by being heavily single-family detached. For some of the denser, land-constrained markets (i.e. New York, Philadelphia, Boston, and DC), the AA communities offer a mix of attached and detached product.

Popular Sun City Texas Has It All

While New York and Phoenix have the most AA communities, Austin has seen the most in-migration. Williamson County in Austin saw the largest population increase nationally of those 65+ from 2010-2016, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Austin also happens to boast Sun City Texas, which is one of the top AA communities in the nation. Sun City Texas started 20 years ago in Georgetown, then a secluded part of the metro. Over the years, the I-35 corridor has developed due North from downtown Austin reaching the community, and providing a more connected feel. Sun City Texas has a lifestyle director that helps the residents enjoy their life within the community. For example, they have roughly 100 hobby groups ranging from the stained glass window club to the golf cart society. Single-story homes start at $220,000.

Here Are Some Recommendations For Your Next AA Community**

One size does not fit all for each community or buyer, but these are some common trends we recommend when working on AA assignments across the country:

  1. Single-story with options. 79% of AA homes are single-story, and while it is preferred, offering an optional second story or pop top goes a long way
  2. Customizable space. Give as much flexibility with space as possible. One buyer may use the spare space for a craft room, while another may prefer a card room
  3. Socializing is very important. Allow for a great room to support gatherings, including a large kitchen
  4. Talk up regional amenities. The average HOA for AA communities is $226 nationally. You can keep the HOA down by piggybacking on regional amenities like restaurants, shops, and grocery stores. La Floresta in Southern California comes to mind.

“Resort-like amenities, bistros, and bars that promote social interaction and support for active and healthy living are some of the biggest selling points for AA buyers,” concludes Michelle Weedon, our SVP of Advisory.

Our team recently completed AA studies in Texas, Indiana, Florida, Georgia, and California. Contact us to discuss how we can help you create an irresistible community for Baby Boomers.

Ali WolfDirector of Economic Research
EMAIL ALI  |  ALI’S PROFILE

*Demographic buckets are helpful, but don’t capture personal preferences. Not all Baby Boomers are interested in living in active adult communities, but for our analysis in this blog, we will focus on those that do.
**Though these are the major trends we recommend, keep in mind that understanding, and building for the local buyer is the most important part of a successful community.

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