Builders are optimistic about the continued potential for the 55+ housing sector, according to the National Association of Home Builders 55+ Housing Market Index for the third quarter of 2016. At 59, the index’s reading is two points ahead of the previous quarter and is the 10th-consecutive quarter above the break-even point of 50.
The index tracks activity in the 55+ single-family housing, multifamily rental and condominium sale categories. Scores above 50 indicate optimism, while those below show that builders see current market conditions as poor.
Single-family housing and multifamily condo sales increased from the second quarter to the third quarter. Meanwhile, multifamily rental production and demand fell during the period. Overall, optimism decreased for expected demand for single-family housing and multifamily rental and condo properties.
The aging baby boomer population has builders and remodelers eyeing demand for new construction and renovations to make their living spaces more accessible. The number of Americans aged 50 and older is forecast to reach 132 million by 2030, according to Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. But many homeowners aren’t thinking ahead to how their accessibility needs are likely to change.
A survey last month from home service website HomeAdvisor found that although 86% of homeowners are aware that they could modify their home to allow them to live there longer, less than one-quarter have undertaken any such work. Still, more than half of homeowners surveyed said they intended to live in their current home for the foreseeable future.
There is a $13.1 billion market opportunity across 5.5 million households for adding no-step entryways at homes of individuals with mobility challenges, according to JCHS data. Although essential for being able to live in a residence long-term, ramps are only one item on a list of potential accessibility updates. Other universal design features include wider hallways, handrails, single-level homes and technologies including security systems and smart lighting, the American Institute of Architects reported earlier this year.
As a result, homebuilders are investing in the development of 55+ housing and communities nationwide targeting the "active adult" category of buyers who anticipate their long-term mobility needs but are interested in amenities and low-maintenance living in the meantime.
Taylor Morrison is tapping consumers to inform the design of its NEXTadventure project, which aims to rethink the future of housing in the category. And Lennar’s Tree Tops active adult community, which sold 80 homes in its first six months, includes a swimming pool and sport courts as well as a library and a crafts center while meeting older buyers’ demand for security and lower home prices, according to the Charlotte Business Journal. The Dublin, OH-based Epcon Communities is also opening amenity-rich communities in Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, Builder magazine reported.