As expected, aging baby boomers will not go “gently into that dark night!” Boomers won't be found in old-age homes, out on a golf course, or environed by traditional décor as much as their predecessors. With a “me-ism” attitude and an appreciation for change, their desires continue to define new frontiers in housing expectations and in living style—so cites a marketing study conducted by DYG Inc. for Hanley Wood's 2nd Annual American Housing Conference.

Baby boomers have dreams. Twenty-seven percent of the “Sharpest Expressions”—those successful boomers aged 50 to 60 now earning more than $100,000 per year—plan to build dream homes. Two-thirds of the group plans to “spruce up” their home or engage in a remodeling project. Fifty-one percent is headed for a better climate. And while 58% may want a smaller residence, they plan to buy “high-end” housing with all the accessories for enjoyable living. The study finds this group not as interested in more time with the grandchildren or in volunteer work; they are not as concerned about deepening their spirituality or participating in church work. Many have the means to enjoy the material pleasures of life, and they plan to do so.

The housing market is in a slide with home sales significantly down. But the demand for housing will remain, especially with this large generation moving toward retirement. Only 1 in 5 plans to stay in their current house. Those numbers represent a shift from aging Americans who traditionally pay off their home and reside there throughout retirement.

Boomers are looking for luxurious, low-maintenance, energy-efficient homes.
Boomers are looking for luxurious, low-maintenance, energy-efficient homes.

How does the baby boomer “me-first” attitude affect housing?

  • States such as Florida or the mountain regions remain a desirable retirement location.
  • Boomers desire a home that reflects and caters to a “my” needs and wants perspective.
  • Homes should encompass all that this generation requires, and a layout that spans one floor is a popular trend.
  • Boomers want “a home designed for energy efficiency.” It is a “hot” item.
  • Outside maintenance is important to this group—a service that maintains landscaping and exterior walls will further add to their housing dreams.
  • This group wishes to live in an environmentally friendly “green” home, but mostly to ease the conscience, according to the study.
  • Boomers desire to live close to nature, reflecting a shift toward rural areas.
  • Nearly half of this group are looking for new construction.
  • Old is out, including old-only communities, older homes, or houses that require restoration.
Jeanne Fields
Jeanne Fields

How should builders plan?

The highest energy-saving and least-maintenance homes and green homes are those built of concrete. Plan to build and market concrete homes that are made completely of concrete or with concrete exterior walls to save energy and provide safety from weather events. And use cement board siding and concrete shingles for very minimal maintenance and durability. With concrete as a building material, be sure to include state-of-the-art kitchens with concrete countertops and master bedroom suites with beautiful bathrooms and walk-in closets. Decorative concrete floors are the best way to provide the even warmth of radiant floor heading systems. Providing decks, porches, and patios; a room for entertainment; and a media room are inclusions that sell. Place the laundry room on the same floor as the bedroom, and add a home office, library, studio, and workspace.