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RISMEDIA, January 27, 2010—A survey of consumers and builders, conducted in 2009 by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and the MetLife Mature Market Institute, has yielded a new round of data revealing the housing preferences of the 55+ consumer. This analysis of data–the third in a series–compared the preferences of the 55-to-64 year old age group to those of the 65+ group.

The data uncovered a strong similarity in housing preferences between the two groups, with a few exceptions. The younger age group showed more interest in technology-heavy features, while the older group expressed a stronger preference for a single-story floor plan or one with a first-floor master bedroom, and a variety of universal design features.

One striking difference, according to John Migliaccio, director of research at MetLife’s Mature Market Institute, related to the desire for home services and community services. “Very telling, said Migliaccio, “is that the younger group of mature consumers reported enthusiastically that they want services like home maintenance and repair as part of their next home purchase, along with services typically connected to older homeowners, such as housekeeping, onsite health care and transportation,” noted Migliaccio.

According to Migliaccio, all of the aforementioned were ranked higher than the desire for organized social activities–a surprise, inasmuch as social activities and amenities have been thought to be valued quite highly by this group. This finding, he said, supports an emerging trend among builders to look for ways to partner with providers of such services to the residents of their active adult/lifestyle communities.

According to Mike McGowan, a 50+ builder from Binghamton, N.Y. and chair of NAHB’s 50+ Housing Council, “Most buyers in this market are looking for an easy-living lifestyle. They would like access to services that will free up their time from maintenance both inside and outside their homes. This data tells builders that the homes we build for older active adults will remain attractive to the consumers who will be entering that market for the foreseeable future.”

Paul Emrath, NAHB’s vice president for survey and housing policy research, pointed out that the share of households that will want lower-maintenance housing is large, and growing larger as Baby Boomers age into that segment of the market. He cautioned that the current financial situation has led to sharply decreased construction of communities that serve the mature market. Without a change in the availability of capital for development and construction, there could well be a shortage of such housing when it is most needed.

For more information, visit www.nahb.org.

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