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Urban Land Institute Conference Take-Aways (Part 2)

As part of an Urban Land Institute Trends conference, I had the pleasure of moderating a panel on what Baby Boomers want from housing. Yesterday’s post addressed trends in economics, locations and personalization. Today, two new trends.

Choosing Not to be Defined by Age

Julie Smith, President, Bozzuto Management Company, provided some insightful statistics from the more than 36,000 apartments Bozzuto operates.  None of these apartments are age qualified, and yet they are seeing an increase in Boomers.

1. Residents over 50 account for almost 1/5 of Bozzuto’s portfolio.
2. 1/3 of people over 50 choose to live in urban areas.
3. People over 67 stay almost three times as long as people under 50.
4. They are wealthier and have higher incomes than younger renters and demand, and pay for, many more services.

Creating Experiences that are Compelling, Evolving

While most of the panel focused on home size and location, I directed my comments to the actual experience.  After all, haven’t Boomers always focused on creating unique experiences for themselves?

Baby Boomers don’t want the homogenized communities or lifestyles of their parents or grandparents. They don’t want to be given a menu to choose from or an “Activities Director” to give them predetermined programing. No, Boomers want to have their way.  True North

At the ULI conference I spoke about how the increase in home health care makes staying at home not only easier, but actually feasible. Retirement communities better have a compelling experiences in addition drop dead gorgeous product or they won’t survive.

For example, Creating Results’ client North Hill is not only totally reimagining their product, but also offering experiences people couldn’t possibly have if they stayed in their home or moved to a condo. They introduced the award-winning “PurposeFULL Living” which isn’t a program or listing of activities, it’s a call to arms. It’s just the type of idea that will engage Boomers as they continue to make their own rules for living their lives.

What’s Next for Baby Boomer Housing?

Instead of a few dominant models, the Urban Land Institute panel concluded, there will be a multitude of successful niche models that appeal to specific segments of Boomers.

Yes, Boomers are the largest generation, but they also are the most eclectic one we have ever known. The good news is that we have 78 million individuals who will live somewhere. The bad news is they will want 78 million different options and many of them won’t be able to afford what they want.

Embrace Baby Boomer individuality and deliver the unique experiences that they want to share with their friends, where they want to live.

The CCRC isn’t dead yet, but it will be if it doesn’t rapidly evolve. The same is true of traditional Active Adult communities. To figure out what could work in your area tomorrow, developers must be engaging with Boomers today and forgetting what they built yesterday.


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About The Author

Todd Harff

Insights from agency Founder Todd Harff have been shared in Brand Week, Ad Age, Marketing Charts, The Wall Street Journal, The Journal on Active Aging, 50+ Magazine, and Selling to Seniors and from podiums at international conferences. He is the co-author of three national studies/eBooks (Photo Finish; Social, Silver Surfers 2010 & 2013). Todd also developed programs on marketing to Baby Boomers and seniors for George Mason University, Lasell College/ E.L.D.E.R. and NAHB’s University of Housing.