Aging in Place: an Emerging Real Estate Topic

September 25, 2017

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While much attention is directed at the horde of youthful first-time homebuyers, the Millennials and GenXers aren’t the only groups who are having a substantial influence on the direction of the real estate market. Whether they are tagged “mature,” “aging,” or downright “elderly,” the over 55-crowd comprise an increasingly influential part of the marketplace. They are also facing some challenges when it comes to housing—and where there are challenges, people with solutions stand to profit.

Freddie Mac—the quasi-governmental entity that studies changing directions in the nation’s real estate market—published an eye-opening look at what’s been going on with our older homeowners. They conducted a survey that queried a representative sample of 4,886 homeowners aged 55 and older.

One finding that everyone in the Grand Forks area would probably expect was that the majority (about 2/3) of respondents hope to stay in their current homes. That proportion of the population hasn’t changed much over time. Another finding that no one would be awfully surprised to hear was that a similar number—the same two-thirds—admitted that their present residences aren’t accessible to anyone with arthritis or limited mobility (not to mention the wheelchair-bound).

In other words, the wish and the reality are, at least for the moment, not entirely in sync. The real estate solution boils down to the issue of retrofitting. Eighteen percent said they had never given retrofitting a thought, but most of the others who have considered it are weighing how they will finance what can cost thousands of dollars. A third said they will rely on savings to create a home where they will be able to “age in place;” 26% plan to use home equity or bank loans; and a smaller percentages will rely on cash-out refi’s, reverse mortgages, or family loans.

Freddie Mac didn’t provide a prescriptive commentary on the likely real estate repercussions of this aging in place phenomenon, but it seems as if Grand Forks area contractors and sub-contractors will find themselves with a developing remodel category as the ranks of the retirement-aged continue to grow. As far as the Grand Forks area’s real estate market is concerned, homes that are easily retrofitted should attract more of the 55+ crowd—as will single-level and ranch-style residences. Styles like multi-story Victorians which are generally associated with Gramma and Grandpop…well, perhaps not so much.

Aging in place is something to which even youthful homeowners should give some thought—particularly if the greater plan is to live and work in the Grand Forks area for the long haul. Whenever real estate plans are under consideration, we hope you’ll give us a call to discuss how we can help!