When you think about people buying real estate, you might picture the young and upwardly mobile, or the couple ready to start a family. Nearly 80% of seniors own a home though, which makes them an influential demographic in the world of real estate.
That will only become more the case in the years to come as the senior population grows at a rapid pace. The choices seniors make about where they want to live are poised to shape a large segment of the real estate market. And seniors themselves can expect to have far more options for where they spend their retirement years than generations that came before. Here are a few of the trends people interested in real estate should be paying attention to.
Growth in home modifications meant to enable aging-in-place
The senior demographic is large and made up of many individuals with varied ideas of what they want their senior years to look like. Yet the vast majority of them are on the same page when it comes to one thing: they want to age in place. People become attached to their homes and put a lot into making their houses into a space that’s uniquely their own. Many seniors are intent on not giving that up if they can absolutely help it.
As such, a lot of houses will need home modifications that make it possible for seniors to age in place safely. From simple additions, like installing grab bars in the bathroom, to more expensive and complicated ones like walk-in showers, contractors can expect to see more business opportunities helping seniors update their homes. And all of us can expect to see the number of houses that possess these kinds of modifications grow.
Senior cohousing as a growing trend
Living alone as you age comes with its share of challenges, but many of them can be solved if you simply have helpful friends or neighbors nearby you can turn to when in need. Senior cohousing communities are popping up to provide seniors with just that.
In senior cohousing, seniors still have their own homes, with all the privacy that entails, but live close to a community of other seniors. The communities usually have shared spaces, like a garden or work out room that everyone can use, which saves money versus building those spaces on their own and provides lots of opportunities to meet and socialize with neighbors.
Having so many other seniors around means residents don’t have to worry as much about being stuck due to a fall or getting sick without anyone around to help. And different seniors can contribute to the community in different ways based on their abilities. Those that are still able to drive safely can offer rides to others, while those who are especially good cooks can take charge of the weekly shared dinner.
Seniors living with roommates
Whether due to a divorce or the passing of a spouse, many seniors find themselves living alone in a house big enough for several people. Maintaining a large house and keeping up with things like yard work and cleaning is a lot for one person to handle, and paying for regular repairs and maintenance can be difficult if you’re living off retirement savings and social security.
The answer some seniors have found is looking for senior roommates. Businesses like the Golden Girls Network have popped up to help senior roommates find each other. Senior roommates can help each other with the costs of maintaining a home and share in the tasks of day-to-day life that get harder as you age.
Aging-in-place villages on the rise
As with senior cohousing and the growth in seniors taking on roommates, aging-in-place villages are all about seniors helping other seniors to make staying in your own home plausible. Beginning with the Beacon Hill community in Boston, aging-in-place villages typically start with a group of seniors that recognize that they have a number of other neighbors facing similar issues due to aging. They band together, create a nonprofit membership organization, and use the strength of numbers to negotiate special deals and opportunities for everyone.
There are over 200 villages in the United States already and more in the process of being developed. And people that are interested in getting one started in their own neighborhood can make use of the resources available from the Village-to-Village network (which was started by the residents of Beacon Hill).
Tiny houses designed for seniors
The tiny house movement is mostly associated with young people, but many seniors have found that tiny houses are actually a good fit for their needs. There’s less maintenance required. You don’t have to spend as much on energy costs. And you can keep your tiny house close to the homes of friends and family, so they’re nearby when you need help, but you can still maintain your independence.
Recognizing an opportunity, some companies have begun to offer tiny houses designed specifically for the needs of seniors. They include features like a softer floor to reduce the impact of a fall, a kitchen that includes a medication dispenser, and accessible bathrooms. Tiny houses aren’t for everyone, but for some seniors they provide just what they need.
More variety in assisted living and independent living options
A lot of seniors are planning to stay in their own homes, but even so, experts expect the need for assisted living communities to rise. We can expect many more independent living and assisted living facilities to be built in years to come, and we can expect more and more of them to offer specialized experiences to attract seniors who have a growing number of options.
From the businesses that offer seniors retirement living on a cruise ship to those that provide seniors with access to college classes, seniors already have a lot of options for choosing communities that match their specific needs and desires for their retirement years. Over time, more assisted living communities that target seniors with specific interests and needs are likely to come onto the scene.
Where we live has a big impact on what our life looks like each day. Seniors know that well and aren’t taking their decisions about where to live in retirement lightly. They want options, and the market is rising to provide them.