Seniors Continue ‘Buying Up’ Homes, Study Says

WASHINGTON

One-fourth of home buyers aged 50 and older are paying more for the home of their golden years than for their previous house. And their new home likely features next-generation amenities like structured wiring and exterior maintenance services, according to a new national study conducted by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and Countrywide Home Loans.

The study, to be released at NAHB’s upcoming Seniors Housing Symposium, was designed to determine what today’s baby boomers and older home buyers want and how they can afford the active lifestyle of their dreams.

“Probably the most striking aspect of the initial results of this study is that many home buyers aged 50+ are not simply cashing out the equity they built up in the home they raised their children in and downsizing into a less expensive house or apartment,” says Jack Haynes, executive vice president of the National Builder Division at Countrywide Home Loans, based in Plano, Texas. “Baby boomers continue to rewrite the rules of consumer behavior at every stage of life, and home builders and mortgage lenders need to be prepared to meet their changing demands.”

The study of builders and developers revealed that more than half of their buyers in age-qualified, age-targeted and independent living communities are spending the same or more on homes. An even higher number are paying with cash or with high down payments of 30 percent or more.

Builders noted that the majority of buyers use equity in their current home and are willing to pay extra for high-tech options and upgrades in their homes. “Successful builders are offering yard service, high-speed Internet access, universal design features and social activities to attract 50+ customers,” says Kent Conine, president of NAHB and a home and apartment builder from Dallas.

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