The Booming Senior Market

Seniors are the most important market segment in the housing industry today, and with so many Baby Boomers entering this segment, the demographics are staggering. To capture this market, you must “woo” seniors with the right home, fabulous merchandising, and just the right options and extras. Seniors typically spend more time (8 months on average) looking for a home…so, models must be well done and memorable to entice these buyers.

This process begins with really knowing who your buyers are, what their level of sophistication is, and where they are currently living. It’s important to know how long your prospective buyers have lived in their homes. This will allow you to predict what features or products your buyers have had that they did not like (or are tired of) and what features they have seen in magazines or other models and haven’t had yet in their dream homes. In many cases, senior buyers are designing their last house, and because they have probably owned at least two or three houses before, they really know what they want!

Generally, the most important rooms for this market are bedroom, bathrooms, and kitchens. Depending on the price range, master bedrooms should be comfortable and lavish – designed as wonderful retreat areas. Secondary bedrooms should be sized and shown with two twins beds and merchandised for visiting grandchildren. Master bathrooms and kitchens should be shown with all the “bells and whistles”. These rooms are a vital part of every builder’s options and upgrades package. Bathroom design and finishing is essential – seniors will buy as much luxury as they can afford. For this generation of homebuyer, particularly women, upgraded kitchens are also very significant. Many of these buyers were previously full-time career women with no time to cook, unlike those “Donna Reed types” who had dinner on the table at 5:00PM everyday. Retirement is now the perfect opportunity for these active adult women to practice their culinary skills and entertain family and friends. Offering the latest luxuries and gadgetry is a great way to dazzle the senior market.

Functionality is an extremely important consideration for this market. You must convince buyers who may be down-sizing that your smaller homes will still meet their lifestyle needs. Floorplans that offer opportunities to entertain are popular in this segment. Homebuyers see open kitchens and wet bars as augmenting entertainment opportunities. Additionally, forty-one percent of seniors want a home office, forty-four percent want a sunroom, nineteen percent want a media room, and twelve percent want an exercise room. Floorplans, especially extra bedrooms, should be merchandised to reflect these lifestyle needs. And remember that a room can demonstrate more than one function. Multi-functional spaces, properly merchandised, prove the function and livability of your models. Dens are particularly effective rooms to show as multi-functional areas (i.e. computer/exercise room).

Builders are becoming more savvy with options and upgrades (and making more money). Upgrades and options increase the perceived value of your model home, particularly if you connect yourself with recognizable products. Some of the most popular upgrades in the senior market are flooring, cabinetry, and countertops, including the new Zodiaqâ quartz solid surfacing by Dupont Corianâ. And don’t forget about exterior upgrades either – finishes and landscaping add considerable value to the presentation of your community, and outdoor spaces such as courtyards and porches are an exceptionally hot trend. “Bundle” upgrades to make selections easier (i.e. built-ins and lighting, overall appliance upgrades), and choose upgrades that cannot be shopped with competitive buyers or the local home stores.

Try some of these options and upgrades and watch your profits soar!