Currently, more than 24 million homes in the U.S. are between 16 and 25 years of age. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median age for homes was 28 years of age, compared to 23 years of age in the mid-1980s.
The mature market is looking for modifications to their homes for increased efficiency and comfort. The older homes on the market simply do not accommodate a range of abilities and do not incorporate enough universal design features that make aging convenient. The elderly is the market that will seek universal design features as well as needing accessible floor plans. And their needs will start increasing over the next 20 years.
The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that by the year 2020, fully 94.9 million people will be over the age of 55-21.8 million of whom will be more than 75 years of age. By the year 2030, 20 percent of America's population will be over the age of 65. These dramatic changes in our population will require more design modifications, especially on older, smaller homes.
According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), the elderly are the least likely demographic group to move out of their current home. The majority of the elderly population, 78 percent, are home owners, and 83 percent of them say they don't want to move out of their current home. But what can the elderly do when they have more free time on their hands, are restricted to their home more often because they are ill, and can no longer climb the stairs to their bedrooms, get into the bathroom in their wheelchair or move about the house without the fear of a fall?
The elderly spend more time at home in the kitchen than other groups. An AARP survey showed people ages 65 and up tend to spend less time eating out than younger generations. In general, the time the elderly spend away from the home decreases as they age. This means more kitchen modifications, said NARI.
Even though the elderly spend some time visiting others and engaging in social activities, the time they spend on these activities is often restricted by illness or injury. In 1994, the elderly's activities were restricted 35 days out of the year, and they spent at least 14 of those days in bed. In 1993, more than half of the elderly population state they had at least one disability which limits their daily activities.
Fewer than 10 percent of the 100 million existing homes are accessible or adapted for the handicapped. With nearly 75 percent of this group owning their own homes, remodeling is a likely solution to alter their existing structure to meet their changing and future needs. This generation has more time and money-and they want or need to spend a greater amount of their time at home. This market is willing to invest in remodeling.
Baby Boomers are a prime market in the remodeling industry. They represent 40 percent of all Americans over the age of 18, or 30 percent of our total population. This generation, including anyone born between 1945 and 1962 is a strong economic force that controls the trends of nearly every industry in the United States.
NARI notes that Baby Boomers want convenience and comfort, and they will do whatever it takes to make their home feel that way. If a large whirlpool bath helps them ease the tension away, they'll ask for it. If warming drawers make dinner preparation easier, they'll want them. And if a home entertainment center helps them relax, they'll need it.
Baby Boomers are famous for their desire to demonstrate their individuality. They don't want the typical new room-they want something custom made and designed to show off their personality and flair. But they won't do the work themselves. To accomplish this goal, they'll call a contractor. They have money, but they don't have time.
Even though some Baby Boomers will move to bigger homes, many of those in their peak earning years have decided to stay put in their current residence and funnel their money into home improvements. In fact, Baby Boomers ages 35 to 44 spend the highest amount of money on home improvements of any age group. And when they are no longer in their peak earning years, they enter the era of home repair and general household maintenance.
Aging, busy, financially secure Baby Boomers tend to avoid do-it-yourself projects. They are moving out of the typical range for do-it-yourself projects. People ages 25 to 34 purchase the largest amount of direct material purchases. As Boomers age, they tend to leave the work to the professionals, making them the strong market, says NARI.
Not only are Baby Boomers in their peak earning years, they also are bringing in the highest ratio of dual income families. Three out of four women in this category work outside the home. Baby Boomers work longer hours, too, and experience more stress. Americans are currently working more hours than at any time since World War II. But unlike earlier generations, most of the Baby Boomers are working these hours to increase their standard of living, not to make ends meet.
In comparison with other adults, Baby Boomers tend to have less leisure time. They clock in 5.5 hours of relaxation on a typical Saturday, while the average adult manages 6.9 hours. Baby Boomers are more likely than other adults to say that they have work to do, errands to run and that children interfere with their leisure time. But, they were more likely than any other group to say that their leisure time should be relaxing and provide some private time just for themselves. And they want to spend the bulk of that time at home.
Known as the "me" generation, Baby Boomers are beginning to put family ahead of other priorities. Nearly two-thirds of Baby Boomers are married, and 62 percent of those ages 30 to 44 have children under 18 at home. More than six million Baby Boomers are grandparents, and that number is estimated to quadruple over the next 10 years. Multi-generational houses soon will be standard.
Generation X is the up and coming demographic group for home remodeling. New on the home owner scene, this generation will make a difference in the coming years. Generation X started remodeling smaller, older homes a step at a time in the '90s, and will continue to do so over the next two or three decades. While Generation X may not have the money or credit that Baby Boomers have now, this generation is strongly focused on home, family and the environment, notes NARI.
They may not have the resources to completely remodel their homes, but they may decide their kitchens need to be updated. To this group, the rest can come later, and it will. They won't put the work off forever, just until they can afford it. They don't like to be in debt and will likely seek small loans or pay in cash for the smaller jobs as they can afford them. Don't expect larger projects until they start to hit their peak earning years in the labor force around 2008, when this generation will start turning 45 years of age.
Family is another important part of Generation Xers' lives. This generation saw their parents' marriages fall apart and families divorce. They saw how the excesses of the '80s affected family life. And they are making the choice not to repeat what they see as their parents' mistakes. When they select a remodeling project to invest in, their focus will be on the family, not on pampering themselves like the Baby Boomers. This makes Generation X a prime market for home offices, family areas and large kitchens. They want a home that invites the family to gather together, not scatter all over the place. This remodeling market will modify their home around their family, NARI says.
This is the generation of renovation, too. Look to this generation to purchase older, historic homes. They will be conscious of the environmental and sustainable trends, more so than any other generation. They truly believe in the philosophy, "reduce, reuse and recycle." To this group, buying an older home is one way to accomplish that goal. (In contrast, Baby Boomers talk a lot about environmental concerns, but don't always following through-Generation X does, according to NARI.) Generation Xers also want to be unique: an older home has a lot more personality than a new townhouse, it can be as unusual and different as they want to make it, but it won't look like their parents' planned community.
Generation X does not hold the financial power of the Baby Boomers and the Mature Market, but they should not be ignored. They are a viable market for remodelers, and that interest will continue to grow.
NARI is a not-for-profit trade association with nearly 6,000 member companies nationwide, representing more than 40,000 remodeling industry professionals. For more information on NARI and the remodeling industry, visit the NARI Web site at www.nari.org or call (703) 575-1100, ext. 3018.