Tag Archives: aging in place

5 Building Product Trends In the New Housing Market

18 Apr


The Housing Market is Evolving – Be Ready

As we move into 2013, I think everyone is in agreement, the housing market is recovering. In some places, it’s recovered, others sill have excess inventory or foreclosures, but overall – we are through the worst time our industry has ever seen (or wants to see).

So as we look forward to this ‘new’ normal what will the housing market look like? What trends do we think will occur or impact our business? the home buyer? the manufacturer? the lumberyards?

Heres my take on 5 things this ‘new’ normal means to our industry

  1. We all have to remember what we have gone through these past few years. It’s human nature to only remember the good things and let those bad memories fade away. We can’t let that happen this time. We need to manage inventories, not simply look for the quick buck and actually manage our businesses with the long-term in mind. Too many bad decisions combined with bad business practices left too many companies out of business.
  2. People will continue to stay in the homes longer. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like homeowners have also learned some hard lessons. Too many people bought a home they couldn’t afford and then wondered why they couldn’t make that huge payout after 2 years. There’s enough hedge funds buying up real estate. People need to buy a home they can afford.
  3. Universal design and aging in place will explode. As a component of #2, people are aging in their homes. Some because they love the house they have lived in, but for many, it’s a very easy financial decision. The cost to make your home more accessible and useable as you age far outweighs the cost to sell your home and move; especially to any assisted living facility. Manufacturers and pros need to look at this as a huge opportunity.
  4. Multi-generational living isn’t going away. While initially people saw this as the Millennial generation moving home after college, it’s much more than that. In a growing number of family’s, the older generation is moving in with their ‘kids’. These homes typically were the primary home and may have kids off in college and now the grandparent(s) are living with the family. Again this becomes a financial, but also a great emotional, challenge for the entire family. Creating homes and products that work, in some cases, for three generations will be key.
  5. Millennials are in no rush to buy a home. For most of us, buying a home was something you wanted to do. It meant you had arrived. You were an adult. We need to understand that’s not at all how the Millennial generation approaches home ownership. That’s part of their contentment with living at home into their mid 20s. As an industry we need to realize that constant stream of new buyers may take a hit for a few years. Although there are plenty of hard working, financially stable 26-32 year olds, they simply don’t feel the need to buy a home right away.

So the housing market is really coming back, but it will be different and we all must learn from the past, and be prepared for the future.

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The Baby Boomer Opportunity: What Building Product Marketers Can Do

9 Aug

NAHB’s CAPS program can be valuable for building product marketers

We all know the marketplace is constantly evolving. Our “Gray Hairs are Everywhere” blog post from earlier this year introduced us to the Millenial generation which is a term used to describe those born between 1980 and 2000. Also known as “Generation Y”, Millennials are the children of the Baby Boomer generation. We’ve discussed what these Millennials mean to your business, but what about their parents?

 Baby Boomers make up 42% of the adult population and according to the AARP this segment can make quite an impact on our companies:

  • Boomers buy 45% of all consumer goods
  • Boomers have 75% of the discretionary wealth in America
  • 68% of them even give money to their adult children

And they’re not going anywhere. The Boomer population is growing 7x faster than the 18-49 segment and they will be the dominant demographic for the next 40 years.

We already know that older homeowners overwhelmingly prefer to age in place, 84% of them according to the AARP, which means they want to live in their homes safely, independently and comfortably, regardless of their age or ability level. This goal aligns with the building products industry perfectly. Boomers want to upgrade their homes to ensure they are accessible, safe and comfortable and we have the products to help them.

But what can you do to ensure you are positioning your products to appeal to this market? One way to do this is to check out your local NAHB chapter and see if they offer the Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist (CAPS) program which is designed to address the growing needs of homeowners looking to stay in their homes longer. While most CAPS professionals are remodelers, even building product marketers can benefit from seeking this certification. By achieving your CAPS designation you will learn:

  • The unique needs of the older adult population
  • Aging-in-place home modifications
  • Common remodeling projects
  • Solutions to common barriers

Beyond that, you will network at the CAPS course with the people you try to reach everyday – potential customers that are self-seeking to learn more about this important market.

Baby Boomers: The Facts

  • Today and every day for the next 18 years, another 10,000 people will turn age 65
  • By 2050, the population of Americans aged 65 or older will be 88.5 million—more than double what it is now
  • Americans aged 85 years or older will reach 19 million—triple what it is now
  • 84% of Boomers are already 50+

To read more about CAPS and to find your local NAHB chapter, visit www.nahb.com.

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Are 20% of Building Product Customers Getting Left Behind?

1 May

Image Source: Monrovia Weekly

A recent Pew Study shows 1 in 5 adults don’t use the Internet.

20% of U.S. adults think the Internet isn’t relevant for them, the majority of whom are retirees.

For anyone with an aging parent, it probably isn’t all that surprising. Those raised to search through phone books to find businesses, who eagerly await printed catalogs to arrive in the mail, who keep their mobile phone turned off until they leave the house, who watch The Weather Channel to get their forecast—in short, the “Boomers” and older who represent nearly 40 million Americans—they have been much slower to adopt the Internet…or to “see the point” in it.

It would easy to dismiss this, noting that many of them are retired and don’t work in the building industry, except for one problem: this audience is a massive portion of the end-step of the building supply channel.

Boomers are the core of the aging-in-place population, a group with billions in purchasing power and growing need for products and services that will ease them through their senior years.

And what we’re hearing is: they don’t use the Internet.

What does this mean for us as building product marketers? Simply put, it means we need to make sure we talk to our audiences—all of them—where they really are and not where we think they should be, or where we’d like them to be, or where it would be convenient for them to be.

Fact is, in the current environment, it’s our inboxes and not our mailboxes that are jammed full of junk, much of which we barely skim over to determine if it’s worth reading at all. As a result, some of the “old school” tactics that have fallen out of favor in the digital age are perfectly positioned to reach the “old school” audience.

So as it turns out, those print ads, direct mail, printed catalogs, prominent Yellow Pages listings, door hangers, and all the other tactics that have been shunned as too old-fashioned to reach the tablet-enabled are exactly the way to reach the non-Internet crowd.

That’s not to say that email campaigns and banner ads and SEO aren’t important ways to deliver your message and reach your audiences. But more than ever, we need to remember that an audience exists who isn’t reached through the Internet that now dominates much of our lives.

When speaking to those who choose to live comfortably off-the-grid, the tried-and-true tactics are still the way to get noticed and make a connection.

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Aging In Place Building Products and Home Ownership Rates

5 Jan

While the economy and aging baby boomers are changing home ownership rates, there are still opportunities to grow your share of wallet.

Home ownership used to be the gold standard for young adults. We bought houses and knew we had secured a great investment. But with the unstable economy, young adults today fight through the recession and home ownership rates continue to decline.

In mid 2006, home ownership hit a peak of 69%, since then, it has steadily decreased and is currently at 66.5%.  This is largely due to the economy and the fact that home ownership is no longer a viable option for Gen-Y. On the other side of the coin, the first round of Baby Boomers recently reached retirement age and many are making decisions about how long they will be able to stay in their current homes.

With this in mind, I looked closer at home ownership data by age from the US Census. There is an overall trend of home ownership decreasing, but with those 45 and older, the decrease is not as drastic. There is even an increase of home ownership in the 65+ segment. The older generations continue to own and invest in their homes, and are often looking at how they can stay at their homes longer. You’ve probably heard the term, “aging-in-place” and it’s not fluff.

In fact, more people than ever are looking at aging-in-place products that make their homes more comfortable. These products can vary and include things like:

  • Low-maintenance exteriors
  • Wider hallways
  • Ground-level master bedrooms
  • Mobility solutions such as stair lifts and residential elevators
  • Accessible kitchens and baths
  • Easy-to-access storage

Remember to think outside of the box as to how your products or services can help young, first-time home buyers, or older consumers looking to age in their current home. Think about how you can reach these elusive homeowners and reap the benefits.

While it’s important to think about the aging in place segment, it’s not your only option. The overall decrease in home ownership means several things for your company and your marketing. First, it predicates a fundamental shift in your marketing messages. Be sure to avoid  excluding the renting market as well as the landlord and owners of apartment complexes and Multi-Family Dwelling Units (MFDU’s). While new apartments and MFDU’s are not seeing a building increase yet, the rental rates are at an all-time high and will soon need renovations.


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Best Cities for Seniors Survey Shows Building Products Opportunities

31 Oct

Building Products Manufacturers Can Benefit from Unconventional Retiree Markets

What this means for the building products industry is a greater likelihood of a 65+ population that is more comfortable with aging-in-place as opposed to moving to a different region. That, in turn, means more customers looking for building products to update or upgrade their homes—siding, flooring, insulation, roofing, lighting…and the list goes on.

Until the housing industry experiences its next boom, the R&R market continues to stand as a viable option, and building products marketers would do well to heed the realities of the industry—even when then run counter to our expectations.

With Boomers entering retirement, marketing building products to aging seniors isn’t a new idea, but where you should market to them is—north. It seems to defy logic but it’s true.

In a Bankers Life and Casualty Company survey, identifying the best qualities for senior living, it turns out the northern cities offer more for aging populations than the southern cities we typically associate with retirees.

So the #1 city for seniors? Minneapolis (avg. January high: 24º F).  But a balmy southern city is #2, right? Actually no. Rounding out the top five:

2. Boston

3. Pittsburgh

4. Cleveland

5. Denver

Not exactly the short-sleeved communities you would expect. In fact, you have to scroll down to #16 before you find a city without significant annual snowfall (Oklahoma City). And it turns out the only Florida city to make the top 50—Miami—has to settle for #35.

Obviously there’s more than climate at work here. The survey considered a range of non-weather criteria, including: healthcare, economy, health and longevity, social, environment, spiritual life, housing, transportation, and crime.

Scott Perry, president of Bankers Life and Casualty Company, said they wanted to “find cities that did the best job in providing services and support that seniors need.”

Thanks to the portrayals of The Golden Girls, Jerry’s parents on Seinfeld, and far too many stand-up routines to count, the perception of Florida and other warmer locales as the literal hotspots for senior populations may be overstated. 

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