What To Expect From an Aging Population

August 18, 2015

As the U.S. population ages, housing will need to to evolve to meet their specific needs. From adding accessibility features, to providing affordable options for seniors on a budget, it's going to be more important than ever for real estate agents and the housing industry to understand how to provide service and support to this demographic.

How massive is this demographic? Well, by 2030, it's expected that one-quarter of the U.S. population will be age 50 or older, according to a recent study by The Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. Close to 39 million adults will be between 65 and 74 years old by that point.

Finding new affordable housing options, or transforming existing homes for this aging generation is crucial.

"Even with the recent uptick in seniors housing construction, vacancies remain relatively stable and rents keep climbing in most markets," reports David Brickman, executive vice president for the Multifamily Business at FreddieMac. "Much of the building has focused on high-end properties in top-tier markets. These don't directly benefit households outside of higher-income brackets or in smaller markets."

Besides relying on new construction projects for seniors, the home improvement industry needs to focus on adapting existing homes so they're accessible to the aging population. Features like home elevators, extra-wide hallways and doors, and first-level bathrooms and bedrooms are set to propel home renovations.

"With declining mobility among baby boomers, spending for accessibility features that enable senior household members to age in place is expected to be a major driver of home improvement spending," says Dr. Kermit Baker, senior fellow of the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.

Here's what you need to know about the housing needs for this demographic:

  • People generally are living longer and wanting active lifestyles as long as possible.
  • Baby boomers aged 55 and older represented one-quarter of renter households in 2014, an increase of 42 percent over the last decade.
  • This population generally lives alone, with women more likely than men to live by themselves.
  • Many older Americans are unable to adequately save for retirement, and more than 10 million people aged 65 or older will be considered low-income in the next 10 years.
  • Much like their millennial counterparts, high housing and rental costs are a challenge for the aging population. One-third of boomers spent more than 30 percent of their incoming on housing in 2012.

Source: "Meeting the Housing Needs of an Aging Population," FreddieMac's Executive Perspectives Blog (Aug. 17, 2015)