Once upon a time, “retirement” included visions of secluded mountain mansions, expansive vistas and a full-service, tuxedo-clad wait staff armed with lobster dishes and fine wine. (Or something like that.) Relaxation and larger-than-life luxury were the hallmarks of a successful retiree after a lifetime of toil.
Not anymore. New research reveals that the next generation of 55+ homebuyers have revamped the entire retirement ideal. The influx of active, connected baby boomers has necessitated a fresh approach to housing offerings and frankly, how we talk about the housing.
What Matters Now
1. Social Structure.
Rather than just seclusion and luxury, baby boomers seek connectivity. They’re ready to pursue hobbies and interests, but they’d rather do those activities along with a vibrant network of friends. The next generation of retirees will sacrifice the ideal house for one with closer proximity to family, and their eyes are peeled for retirement havens with a robust calendar of social activities, interest clubs and community events. Baby boomers — especially men — value physical activity and wellness, making on-site amenities all the more attractive to this generation.
2. Location, Location, Location…by foot.
Almost half of baby boomers seek a home just 15-30 minutes from a city core, but many also desire a range of offerings within walking distance. Master-planned communities, such as Clairemont client Briar Chapel, provide an ideal structure for those looking for their retirement haven; miles of hiking and biking trails offer opportunity for exercise, while Briar Chapel’s vibrant commercial section provides quick access to restaurants, entertainment and quality healthcare — all within a stroll of your back door.
3. …but not size.
The 55+ population ditch large, roomy houses in favor of one-story villas. Function and form far outweigh size. Key desirable factors include an open floor plan, a first-floor master bedroom, accessible and ample storage and minimal yard work.
Oh, and while you’re at it, two-thirds of baby boomers have pets (which they treat like royalty), and most of them have more pets than they do children. So make room for Fido in your floorpan.
So what does this mean for marketers?
1. Lifestyle over luxury.
Based on this research, effective messaging and marketing strategies will highlight the activities and culture of a community. Testimonials from friendly neighbors, Facebook Lifestream of neighborhood events, photo albums of gardening or exercise clubs — tactics like these proffer strong leverage when demonstrating relationships rather than the shining upgrade options of the home itself.
2. Proximity over product.
Due diligence for any home purchase includes a thorough investigation of the home specs. Hence, spend less time touting the granite features and glorious patios, and devote your messaging to featuring all of the opportunities within a short drive or walk of this home. Partner with local restaurants and hotspots to share their special events; offer a downtown tour of cultural experiences as part of your lead generation and sales cultivation.
3. Nothing speaks like experience.
Baby boomers aren’t a “tell me” generation; they prefer to experience life and make hands-on decisions for themselves. Craft opportunities for potential homebuyers not just to see or read about your offerings but also experience them prior to committing to a contract. A resident for a day program, for example, or a future neighbor meet-and-greet soiree invites potential homebuyers to experience the culture, community and warmth of your community first hand.
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Image courtesy of Briar Chapel.