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Boomer And Senior Home Buyers’ Wants And Needs:

Boomer And Senior Home Buyers

6 Tips To Come Out On Top Of The Forecasted Tsunami

By Bonnie J. Lewis

Study after study finds that most older adults want to live their retirement years in their own home. However, a whopping 99 percent of U.S. housing stock is not ready to facilitate that, according to the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies in 2017.

All too often many homeowners fail to realize, until it’s too late, that their home is not aging in place-ready. While others are in denial that they are aging, so they see no need for an aging in place home preparation. However, one event such as a fall, accident, stroke, illness or disease can force residents out, shattering their dream to remain in their home and leave them unprepared for the high cost of assisted or long-term care living, which runs on average $3,500 to $7,200 per month (single occupancy) in Arizona, depending on level of care required.

Most assisted living housing is private pay, which means it is not covered by the government or health insurance. Only long-term care insurance policyholders receive financial benefits for private pay assisted living housing.

Preventing an abrupt, unplanned move to assisted or long-term care living, is one benefit of aging in place design. Other benefits include extending longevity, preventing falls and accidents, retaining independence as long as possible, and making daily activities easier, when needed most.

Because seven in 10 boomers (currently between the ages of 57 and 71) plan to downsize, according to The Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) in 2016, there’s significant opportunity for real estate agents to help boomers find a suitable home for aging in place, and to sell their current home.

Here are 6 key things you need to know to help boomers and senior home buyers:

1. Simply adding grab bars and eliminating rugs does not make a home aging in place-ready.

2. Earning a senior real estate specialist (SRES) designation would be beneficial for you and your clients.

3. Boomers and seniors usually don’t know that they need a house that’s architecturally/ structurally aging in place-ready and designed to accommodate them throughout retirement. They also don’t know what design features are required throughout the home’s interior and exterior for aging in place safety, accessibility and wellness.

4. Active adult and retirement community developments are often designed for lifestyle, not aging in place for the long game, which puts them into the 99% of housing stock not ready to accommodate older adults.

5. Since very few aging in place-ready homes exist and/or are on the market, your best option is to advise your clients that some aging in place remodeling will need to be done first on the home they want, if they intend to live their retirement years there and age successfully. Waiting to remodel until they need it is a mistake because it’s reactive rather than proactive and preventative, and potentially puts them in the position of being forced out of their home because it isn’t ready to accommodate their future needs that occur with aging.

6. You’ll need to have a NAHB certified aging in place specialist (CAPS) or experienced senior living interior designer as a ready resource, just as you have a home inspector. That professional can evaluate for your client a house, before an offer is made, to ensure it’s a good remodel candidate and provide a ballpark estimate on cost and lead time. Once the purchase decision is made, the client can work with them on remodel design plans and execution. The return on investment (ROI) for an aging in place remodel can be less than one year when compared to the cost of assisted or long-term care housing. In addition, when done correctly, a beautiful, functional aging in place remodel will increase the home’s value and make it highly marketable since there are so few aging in place-ready homes available.

Finally, boomers and seniors need you to be their advocate in finding a home that will be a smart investment that truly allows them to age in place.

Bonnie Lewis is the founder of 55+ TLC Interior Design, LLC. She is an NAHB Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) and Boomer and senior living interior designer that is passionate about helping people enjoy their “second chapter in life.” Bonnie is the recipient of numerous national and regional design excellence awards for Senior Living, Universal Design and Aging in Place remodel projects. To learn more and view projects, visit