In 2018, Seniors and Millennials Will Find Common Ground in New Construction.
If we only had a crystal ball. Then we could predict, or at least pretend to predict, the real estate economy and the housing forecast for the coming year. With no crystal ball in hand, we just need to focus on that which we know for sure. According to the Pew Research Center, 10,000 Americans have been turning 65 every day since Jan. 1, 2011 and will continue to do so until 2030, when the last of the Baby Boom generation celebrates that birthday.
Many changes await us as our population makes bold shifts in age. Our senior population is at 46 million. The desire today is for a home where one can “age in place.” We are living longer and our population is growing. Adaptable, accessible, smart design are key features that anyone who is approaching retirement and a change in lifestyle is looking for.
The next thing we know for sure is that our roughly 80 million millennials (those born in the early 1980s to early 2000s), according to the U.S. Census Bureau, will be first-time homebuying candidates in the coming year. And guess what? As much as they want to be considered “different,” they are just like every generation before them. Millennials strive for a life well-lived. They want good jobs. They want to be engaged, emotionally and behaviorally connected. They want a purposeful life and a quiet place to call home at the end of the day. The concept of moving away from home and working at a minimum wage job is highly overrated. Millennials get that. They are not in a big rush to live the repetitive working lifestyle of their parents. They want to spend money on what they want, not just on what they need. Being a highly educated and technologically advanced group, they look for innovative design and ideal function of space in a home.
And while being a millennial doesn’t have to mean living in your parent’s basement—being a senior doesn’t mean you are going to move back in with your kids. Yet, your housing choice really does have to address all these needs. Everyone is looking for the great place to call home. Just look at the numbers: Pew Research says 19 percent of the U.S. population lives in a multi-generational household and 20 percent of U. S. households consist of adults living with roommates. These numbers make sense with the high amount of student debt coupled with the uncertainty of employment consistency as people struggle to put a roof over their head. Today’s buyer is complex, diverse, and demanding. Entitlement isn’t just for the kid in his 20s—think senior who only wants to live on a private gated golf course community. Home buyers today want what they want when they want it… there’s not a lot of patience out there in the marketplace.
Hence, the desire for new construction and a home built with an eco-friendly footprint. Sure, we all watch the shows on HGTV. But in reality, no one actually wants to buy a “fixer-upper.” When looking at a home that needs updating, reality TV only goes so far. As everyone, including HGTV Fixer Upper stars Chip and Joanna Gaines knows, nothing is ever completed in a 30-minute segment. New construction, efficient creative design and state-of-the-art finishes—that’s the desire of most buyers in any age group today. The cost of goods and labor is rising every day and there is nothing to indicate that the cost to build is going to decline. A prediction: 2018 will be the year that we see millennials pinch their pennies and get their credit score on track to qualify for an FHA loan, while our senior marketplace—anyone over 50—is strategizing how to maximize their retirement dollars to enjoy the quality of life they have worked so hard to attain. Whatcom County will continue to be a most precious place to call home as we become an “urban suburb”—a safe and protected place, with walkable neighborhoods downtown, and recreational communities that offer affordability in the outlying areas.