Earlier this week I wrote about the widening gap between what my baby boomer clients want in senior housing, and what the developers are offering. A number of times over the last year I've looked at Ranch style homes (we call them ramblers in Minnesota) with baby boomer clients who had the hopes of purchasing a home with all the facilities on one-level. They were much too young for senior housing, but wanted to prepare for their own aging by finding a home where they could successfully grow old. This is REALLY tough to find. Here's a wish list of what my baby boomer clients said they wanted when it was time for them to downsize.
Note: it's more helpful to consider this list for the stage of life vs. assume this is what all baby boomers want.
Note for Real Estate Investors: Go study Universal Design. Then copy and paste this list into your business plan. It will be worth it's weight in gold.
- Large Master Bedroom, lots of closet space, and windows that don't impede where the furniture should be placed.
- Formal Dining Room.
- An efficient kitchen. In order of importance: (i) a tight triangle between refrigerator, sink and wall oven (I don't want to have to bend), (ii) storage space, (iii) counter space.
- There should be enough room for me to get through all the hallways and work in the kitchen with a walker or wheelchair. One corner that's too tight for a walker is a deal-breaker. Bathrooms and Kitchens are typically the culprits.
- A separate tub and shower are ideal. The bathroom door should not be in the way of use of the bathroom.
- Large living room. If smaller, another bedroom on this floor could be made into a TV room.
- Washer and dryer on the main floor. A stackable unit could be tucked into a closet, just get them on the main floor.
- If the foundation is large enough to allow for two bathrooms, a master bath with separate shower and bath, and two sinks is preferable.
- Windows. New ones, and lots of them.
- If you have an older space heater in the basement, a wood burning stove or older furnace, or any other older appliance--replace it. A safe home with newer working appliances is preferred.
Universal Design Elements
- Lower touch light switches
- Higher outlets
- Wider doorways and hallways
- Adjustable shelving and clothing rods in closets
- Door handles instead of knobs
- Smooth transitions between floor surfaces
- If a ramp is needed to eliminate stairs to the entry of the house, put the ramp in the back of the house.
Make it look good
- No wallpaper
- Neutral colors
- Modern finishes
- Don't skimp on finishes or workmanship. This clientele will notice
- The home should be in a first ring suburb close to shopping, pharmacist, doctor and hospital
- The topography of the lot should be flat
- A quiet road with little traffic noise
- A low crime area with higher than average appreciation of property
What else would you add?