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As massive numbers of baby boomers begin to reach their senior years and life expectancy continues to increase, the U.S. is bracing for the impact of a groundswell of senior citizens.
Dubbed the “Silver Tsunami”, this significant increase in the aging population is expected to balloon over the next 30 years. Today, 15% of Americans are age 65 or older. By 2050, that number is expected to soar above 20%, bringing with it an estimated 40 million additional people seeking senior housing options. Not only will the housing market see an increase in the demand for senior living, but the style and manner in which it’s delivered will change considerably. Baby boomers have already started revolutionizing the definition of aging and where they choose to live is a big part of that equation.
Here are five important ways the Silver Tsunami is likely to shape the real estate housing market over the next decade:
- Increased demand. The senior living industry will need to expand to meet the demand that will be created by this influx of older Americans. Expect to see senior living communities popping up all over the country, not just in the typical Sunbelt destinations like Florida and Arizona. The senior population has already increased dramatically in California, Michigan, Oregon, and North Carolina. And as the demand for senior living increases, the number of senior communities will rise in rural and urban settings alike.
- Focus on an active lifestyle. As Boomers consider senior housing, they’re seeking a wider variety of structures, floorplans and services to support their goal of maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle. Independent living options that are walkable to activities and neighborhood amenities such as dining and shopping are a priority. Flexible residential layouts with private apartments, upscale condos, or those that have a home-like feel are preferred by senior consumers who can afford them. Within senior communities, having plenty of space for interaction and social connection is another important element of that active lifestyle. For this generation, the future of senior living must be vibrant and empowering.
- Personalized care will reign supreme. As the baby boomer generation raises the standard for senior living, expect to see more options for personalized care. Beyond faster Wi-Fi and more attractive surroundings, facilities for the aging will offer an array of living options to meet the needs of a wide variety of residents. From concierge services to transportation and even customized care offerings such as therapy pools and holistic healing opportunities, senior living in the future will continue to move away from institutional care and toward a true sense of home and community.
- Expect downsizing to take front and center. Millions of aging baby boomers could seek to downsize en masse in the coming years as they approach their 60s and 70s, prompting a rush to build smaller and more affordable homes. Downsizing already takes place on a small scale, as empty nesters in their golden years seek smaller accommodations that require less maintenance and care. But the sheer volume of aging baby boomer households associated with the Silver Tsunami means there should be a large increase in the absolute number of downsizing households in the coming years. Seniors who do move are frequently downsizing significantly, according to the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing and Care (NIC). By age 71, movers average a loss of approximately two rooms per home, and by age 82, movers are averaging a loss of 2.5 rooms. As large numbers of seniors begin to downsize and do so with more frequency, the shift could create serious competition in the market for first-time homebuyers who are often looking for smaller starter homes.
- Look for new ways to age in place. Even with the expected explosive growth of senior living facilities, 87% of seniors still say they’d prefer to remain in their own homes as long as possible. This will fuel the need for senior friendly housing, as well as for home improvements and technology. There is already an increase in smart home devices, which encompasses a large number of services designed to adapt to the needs of seniors who may be losing physical mobility but who still wish to live independently. Devices such as smart home sensors that improve comfort and safety are poised to become driving forces in the market catering to the coming Silver Tsunami. This desire to remain in their homes is also promoting baby boomers to be more cognizant about the accessibility of their forever homes. The troubling reality is that many of their current homes are not adequately equipped to facilitate the aging process. Features of an ‘age-friendly’ home often include accessible entries such as ramps and elevators, main-level garages to help shield older individuals from the elements, adaptations to minimize physical impact when navigating through various areas of the home, incorporating larger amounts of easily reachable storage, plenty of natural lighting for increased visibility, grab bars in the bathroom, and wheel-chair accessible hallways and doorways, among others. Retrofitting to incorporate these accommodations can be costly, but compared to the annual expense of relocating to a senior community or assisted living facility, making these adaptions can evolve into an advantageous investment.
It’s undeniable that the United States will soon experience an enormous surge of savvy, aging consumers who want plenty of options in their housing. The Silver Tsunami tide is already rising. Are you ready to catch the wave? To learn more about the housing impacts resulting from the Silver Tsunami or any other demographic, please reach out to our helpful, knowledgeable team.
About Certified Title Corporation: Since 1994, attorney-owned Certified Title Corporation has been furnishing residential and commercial real estate stakeholders across the nation with robust title insurance, settlement, and escrow services. Renowned for their industry-leading reliability and exemplary level of service and quality, the Maryland-based company helps clients from all walks of life achieve their asset goals. To learn more, call (888)486-5511 or visit https://www.certifiedtitlecorp.com/.