What Empty Nesters are Looking for in a New Home When they Downsize
The Baby Boomer Generation is the largest age group of our population. These retirees, or soon to be retirees, are also looking to downsize from their current homes, and looking to purchase or build ones that are specific to their new needs and lifestyles. These buyers are very specific in their desires and needs. I met recently with Realtor Simon Fitzpatrick with Simon Fitzpatrick Exceptional Properties in Fairfield, CT. We spoke about the specific needs of this group of home buyers.
As these retirees pack up their large homes, many of which have seen the arrival of babies as well as the departure of these same babies, now all grown up and off to college or with families of their own, they will be wanting many of of their material possessions that will be traveling with them. So for this group, storage space is of the utmost importance. In this part of the country, a New York City suburb, the average size home desired by these retirees is roughly 2,500 – 3,000 square feet. This number does vary in different parts of the county. This generation wants their space to feel contained, but manageable.
This is a wealthy generation. They have worked hard and saved well. Their retirement funds are healthy and they have money to spend on their new homes. Any income, however, generated from the sale of their past home, will not go towards the purchase of the new home. It will, instead be put towards their retirement accounts. For this generation of buyers, this home purchase is no longer for investment purposes. They want convenience and simplicity. They are looking for high end, turnkey homes.
A well laid out kitchen and floor plan, for instance, are a must. Baby Boomers want updated homes, with new kitchens that boast high end finishes, and lots of counter and storage space. Granite counters and stainless steel appliances are hugely popular, as are open floor plans, where kitchens open up to family rooms. Because this generation grew up with dining rooms, they prefer those homes that have them.
Master bedrooms on the first level, which is quite a rare find these days, are a must. Master bathrooms, as well as half or guest bathrooms on the main level are also in demand. These grandparents, or soon to be grandparents are also looking to buy a home that can accommodate their children and grandchildren, therefore they are still looking for the 3 to 4 bedroom home, with the guest rooms on the second floor. Often a spare bedroom is converted into a home office. Finished basements are also popular as a means for storage as well as a place for the children to play. Basements tend to be much more popular than attics, either walk-ups or pull downs.
Bathrooms need to be bright and showers are a must. As these retirees get older, getting in and out of bathtubs gets harder and harder. Additionally, a bathtub is needed in one of the bathrooms for young grandchildren. Master bathrooms should to be equipped with walk-in showers, the larger the better. Home builders might think about adding railings or handle bars as well. Storage space for linens and medicine is equally as important. These bathrooms should have generously sized linen closets, and as much above the sink storage as possible to alleviate the need to bend down, which can also get tougher with age.
This generation wants their homes to be problem-free; no mold, water or other potentially significant issues. Efficiency is also extremely important. Roofs should be new, as should windows, and the home should be well insulated. Where many do not want carpeting in their homes, the Baby Boomer generation does. It provides softness, warmth and is safer than the harder surfaces.
Wider hallways and doors, allowing for wheelchairs, are also a welcome feature. The fewer stairs, the better, as well. And, unless a condo or townhouse is new, with an elevator in place, they, as a general rule of thumb, will not work due to all the stairs required to get to the upper floors. This generation wants a garage, but doesn’t need a long driveway.
Gated communities, and I do not necessarily mean retirement communities, are quite popular. Homes within these communities typically less property to maintain, which is a huge draw for this set. Often are the properties are maintained for them. These communities offer spacious living with enough privacy but without feeling too alienated. Patios and verandas are desired. In these communities, they can be with people of their own ilk and maintain a social life. These communities often have swimming pools, tennis courts and gymnasiums for those who find it important to keep fit.
Another important factor is location. Empty Nesters prefer to be in or close to town. The want easy access to culture and restaurants. They want to get out and enjoy themselves and live and active lifestyle without having to drive too far. School systems are not at all important to them, but medical access and hospital location often is.