Hardly a day goes by without seeing or hearing an article or story discussing the need for more housing – for Millennials purchasing their first home, for renters moving into the home ownership arena, for people needing a larger home, for people relocating or downsizing, for workforce housing, for people reportedly being priced out of homeownership, and especially housing of various types for seniors.
For housing opportunities in general, there are several factors driving the seemingly low supply of available home – of course, real estate is local so this issue is going to be more pronounced in some areas and less in others. The size, location, condition, and, most of all, the price of available homes to purchase – existing (pre-owned) homes and new construction (completed, being built, and to-be-built) are determining factors in what is available and what can be absorbed by the marketplace.
Many people have reached a point in their lives – regardless of their age, the number of people in their household, and whether they have owned a home at some point in the past or if this is to be their first purchase – that they finally decided that it’s time for them to purchase a home. However, they find their choices and opportunities limited. Often when they find something they would like to live in, that is in a location they like and at a price they can afford, there are others who feel the same way. A small bidding war ensues. Homes selling for more than the asking price is getting to be quite common. People often must keep on looking because the home them wanted escaped them.
Looking at the senior aspect of housing opportunities, it’s interesting to look at the various perspectives for providing such housing. There seems to be a lot of discussion about building smaller homes for retirees and empty nesters. constructing cluster homes where groups of seniors can live in smaller homes in proximity with each other and enjoy a common passive park or community center, adding small auxiliary dwelling units (ADUs) both attached and detached to existing residential properties, building rental apartments for seniors, creating attached and detached villas, and providing congregate living opportunities as some of the more common approaches.
Taking seniors as a group – and even defining this demographic is tricky because it includes three generations with three very different outlooks on life, spending patterns, and ways they connect with their surroundings – there are some who might like to find a different dwelling than they have now, but largely this is unnecessary. Rather than taking the time to research and build homes specifically for the rather diverse group of people that is loosely categorized as “senior,” there could be enough homes to satisfy the demand already.
AARP reports that nearly nine out of ten people over the age of 65 want to remain in their current home for the rest of their lives. This only leaves about a tenth of this group that would even consider moving into another dwelling – spread across all of the various opportunities that already exist and the new ones that will be coming online.
Since the Baby Boomers only are in their sixties and just now beginning their seventies, most of the senior group is going to be comprised of the two generations born before the end of World War II. While some of this group may be interested in moving, most are going to be committed to remaining in their present home. Some may move to some type of a care facility, some may move in with their children, and some may look for a home easier to take care of than their present one. However, most will remain where they are.
Since people want to remain in their current homes – even those outside what typically is viewed as the senior group – and age in place where they are, the existence, or lack thereof, of a sufficient number of suitable homes (new or existing) for them to move into is moot. They simply aren’t moving, and they aren’t even looking at this option or considering it. As such, there is no shortage of senior housing units. Our major challenge is to help people modify their homes to accommodate their changing sensory or mobility needs that often come with aging and accommodate those with existing progressive or traumatic needs as well. The vast majority of seniors are in the homes they want to be in – subject to a few enhancements, updates, or renovations that we can provide.