The vast majority of older homes on today's market does not offer a wide range of accommodations and does not incorporate enough universal design elements to make housing convenient for this market. By 2010, one in every seven Americans will be over the age of 65. As the population ages, the demand for design modifications in homes, especially smaller homes, will increase.
The mature market is looking for housing with accessible floor plans that will allow people to move about easily and live comfortably. This is especially important for persons with impaired mobility. These needs will be increasing over the next 10 years, which makes this group a particularly viable market for the remodeling industry, according to Milwaukee/NARI.
The mature generation also enjoys high owner-occupancy rates for homes, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In fact, older Americans are among the best-housed citizens of a well-housed nation. "When members of the mature market need to improve their residences, they tend to have the financial resources available for remodeling and will call a professional contractor rather than try a do-it-yourself project," says Mary Fox-Hagner, executive director of Milwaukee/NARI. "The mature market does have money." People over the age of 65 control more than 50 percent of all discretionary income, and they spend $60 billion annually.
Not only does approximately 75 percent of the mature market own their own homes, but these individuals are least likely of any demographic group to move out of their residences. According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), 83 percent of elderly home owners say they don't want to move out of their current dwellings. As their needs change, they will call remodeling contractors to make the necessary alterations to their homes, such as barrier-free entrances and accessible baths.
As the mature market finds more leisure time after retirement, this group also can find itself restricted by illnesses and decreased mobility more often than other generations. "These individuals look for universal design features in their homes as they face difficulty climbing stairs, getting into the bathtub, and moving freely around the house without falling," Fox-Hagner said. The gap between the number of people who would benefit from accessible housing and the number of accessible homes available on the market continues to widen, which makes remodeling the means to accommodate this growing segment of the population.
MORE TIME AT HOME
The elderly spend more time at home in their kitchens than other age groups, as well. An AARP study found that people 65 years and older spend less time eating out than younger generations. The amount of time that the mature market spends at home increases as the group ages, which also means more kitchen remodeling projects for this market segment, says Milwaukee/NARI.
"The mature market wants to spend a greater amount of time at home—and they are willing to invest money in the necessary home improvements to make their environments more functional, enjoyable and comfortable," said Fox-Hagner.
Because this generation tends to live in older housing, it is the primary market for replacement projects and structural maintenance. The Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University reports that the typical elderly home owner is twice as likely as a younger home owner to undertake a replacement project or another activity related to upkeep.
The Milwaukee/NARI Home Improvement Council was chartered in July 1961, as a chapter of the National Home Improvement Council. In May of 1982, the National Home Improvement Council merged with the National Remodelers Association to form NARI. With more than 650 members, the Milwaukee, WI, chapter is the largest in the nation. For more information on the Milwaukee/NARI Home Improvement Council, call (414) 771-4071 or visit www.milwaukeenari.com.