Top Characteristics Seniors, Boomers Want in New Homes: NAHB Survey

Home and community builders, take note: A fairly clear idea of boomers’ and seniors’ home buying preferences can be constructed from a recent National Association of Home Builders survey that reveals, above all, a desire for adequate space, ease of maintenance, and outdoor community amenities.

The What Home Buyers Really Want survey was undertaken by the NAHB Economics and Housing Policy Group in 2012 using a consumer research panel maintained by the NAHB Research Center.

Nearly three-quarters of seniors (those born in 1945 or earlier) are currently living in a  single-family detached home, but only 62% would like to buy another such home.


“A significant share of seniors—19%—would like to buy some “other” type of home, probably referring to units in assisted living or other type of  seniors’ community,” says NAHB, compared to 12% of those between the ages of 55 and 64 who indicated the same.

Meanwhile, 32% of those 65 and older reported no plans to purchase a home, while the next-highest portion, at 20%, said they had plans to buy a home—whether a single-family detached or townhome attached, multi-family apartment, mobile home, or “other”—in the next one to three years.

While half or more of Gen Y and Gen X buyers would choose a bigger house with fewer amenities, nearly a third (31%) or fewer of boomers and seniors would prefer a smaller house with quality products and amenities.


An example of certain amenities that can be included in home design are bathroom aids—such as installing grab bars or seating in showers— which are either “desirable” or “essential” in a new home to a combined 63% of seniors and 52% of boomers.

Size still matters, too, as nearly half of senior respondents (48%) and 43% of boomers said they’d like a new home to range between 1,600 and 2,499 square feet—not hugely different from current proportions living in homes of that size.

Indeed, adequate living space and number of rooms to meet needs is the number one characteristic that would most influence seniors to purchase a new home (59%), followed by ease of maintenance (42%) and energy efficient features (45%).

Boomers share two of the three most influential characteristics chosen by seniors: adequate living space and rooms (63%), a better insulated and sealed home (35%), and ease of maintenance (34%).

Heading outside, the top three amenities that would “seriously influence” senior buyers to choose a certain community to move into are walking/jogging trails, park area, and outdoor maintenance services.

Seven in ten seniors said they would not want their home to be in a  golf course community, compared to 18% who said they were indifferent and a combined 12% who would find that “desirable” or “essential.” Boomers’ responses were much the same.

A majority of boomers and seniors preferred suburban locations rather than rural or urban settings.

The highest number of seniors (36%) said if they were buying a home, their first preference would be for it to be located in an “outlying” suburb, compared to 30% who would prefer to live in a “close” suburb and one quarter who would choose a rural area to buy a home. Just 9% would prefer a “central” city, according to NAHB data.

For prospective boomer buyers, it’s not much different: the first presence for 37% would be an “outlying” suburban location, followed by 56% split evenly between choosing a rural setting or a “close” suburb, and just 7% who would prefer an urban location.

Written by Alyssa Gerace

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