NAR: Seniors Seek Same Community Features as Younger Buyers

Older homebuyers prefer single-family detached homes in suburban or rural locations rather than urban condos or apartments, indicates the National Association of Realtor’s 2013 Community Preference Survey, but in many cases what they want in a new home matches up to their younger counterparts.

There was not a huge variation in the age breakouts between homebuyers under and over the age of 50, Hugh Morris, manager of Smart Growth Programs NAR, told SHN. The annual survey was conducted on a 1,500 person sample, 605 of whom were defined as “seniors” at age 50 or older. 

However, the senior demographic seems less interested in living in the city and more interested in living in a small town or rural area, if they were going to move, Morris says based on the survey findings. 

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Nearly three in 10 (28%) said if they could choose where to live, they would most like to live in a suburban neighborhood with a mix of houses, shops, and businesses, compared to just 9% who would choose a city near a mix of offices, apartments, and shops, and 8% who would opt for a mostly residential neighborhood in a city. Another 22% indicated a preference for a rural area, compared to 16% of those younger than 50. 

However, half of those aged 65 and older indicated a lack of shops and restaurants within easy walking distance of the house, and 64% of the 50+ set said that their “car is king”—nothing will replace their car as a main mode of transportation. 

Almost half of respondents (44%) aged 50 and older said they would prefer living in a single-family detached house with a large yard, with another 31% preferring the same type of dwelling but with a small yard. Only 13% liked the idea of moving into an apartment or condominium. 

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Yard preferences shifted for 65+ homebuyers, 36% of whom said they’d want a small yard, compared to 35% who still wanted a large yard. 

Older homebuyers were slightly more likely than their younger counterparts to choose “neighborhood” as more important than the size of a house when deciding where to live, at 82% versus 78%. Only 12% of 50+ participants said the size of the house was more important. 

“Realtors build communities and care about improving those communities through smart growth initiatives. Although there is no one-size-fits-all approach, smart growth is typically characterized by mixed-use development, higher densities, and pedestrian friendly streets that accommodate a wide diversity of transportation modes,” said NAR President Gary Thomas, broker-owner of Evergreen Realty, in Villa Park, Calif., in a statement. “Growth patterns, economic development and quality-of-life issues are inextricably linked to the success of communities and residents.” 

Access the 2013 Community Preference analysis

Written by Alyssa Gerace