Remember Marsha, Marsha, Marsha? We have the Baby Boomers to thank for introducing us to The Brady Bunch’s non-nuclear family unit, for bringing bell-bottoms on the scene, and of course Beatlemania. The Boomers (aka Boomies or The Bulge) are a sizable population, and their sheer numbers alone have allowed them to leave an imprint in each phase of life they passed through.[i]
With the recent economic downturn and many Baby Boomers facing empty-nests (and some already nesting), downsizing to an apartment, or a rental condo or townhome, is an attractive housing option.
The property management industry has focused a lot of its recent efforts on pleasing, keeping, and marketing to Gen-Y renters (or Millennials), the largest current population of renters. So it isn’t surprising if you haven’t considered the Boomers a rental population worthy of your time and attention… but, as it turns out, they are.
Who Are the Baby Boomers?
The Baby Boom era typically refers to Americans born between 1946 and 1964, so people ages 47-65. Boomers make up just over a quarter of the population, that’s 78 million people, so this is a portion of the populace that property managers don’t want to ignore!
Out of the Boomer population, about 13 million currently rent. So as it stands the vast majority own homes… but that’s about to change.
According to the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, although the majority of Baby Boomers will age in place and not give up their households until after 2030, there’s still a percentage of Boomers who will make the move to renting over the next two decades and stick with it.[ii] In fact, some housing moguls are willing to bet on it.[iii]
The American Dream (Re)Imagined: Why Some Boomers Want/Need to Rent
The recent economic recession, along with changes in priorities among Americans, has caused a paradigm shift. What has been championed as the pinnacle American Dream, ’homeownership’ is transforming. And as these ideas of the American Dream and homeownership evolve, so too are people’s needs.
There are multiple reasons why Boomers want to relocate, downsize, and/or rent, retirement seems uncertain, financial setbacks, healthcare costs. And as they age, their needs change. Household duties and associated maintenance become more of a drain.
Motivated By Family
Families are separated by jobs, interests, relationships, etc., and the Boomer population finds itself retired, empty-nested and, perhaps, lonely with loved ones far away. This dynamic leads many Baby Boomers to want to live where their children live, and where their grandchildren live.[iv] They might sell, move, rent, and don’t want the upkeep that comes with owning a home. Some never want to buy again!
One such Boomer, Deana of Morrow, Ohio, shares that Home ownership on a fixed income today definitely has its downside. She reflects, With the cost of maintenance, the hassle of mortgages and fluctuating fuel costs that affect our heating bills, the thought of renting becomes much more appealing nowadays. It’s very liberating to think about someone else worrying about those things for a change, and downsizing to an apartment or condo would be a lot less work. Plus, I really want to be closer to my grandkids.
Deana isn’t the only Boomer who feels this way. But, in many cases, property management companies have failed to cater to this demographic as a worthwhile or lasting rental population.[v] As a property manager or owner, you should ask yourself: Have I considered the Boomers?
Be Mindful of Boomers: An Emerging Population of Renters
As you think about marketing to other populations, consider taking time to appeal to the mature renter. Here are some reasons why:
-Boomers Have Specific Tastes: Baby Boomers have been seen as an attractive population to industry experts because they know exactly what they want.[vi] So forget about fickle twenty-something’s for a few minutes. Boomers have lived and experienced more. They know what they want, from floor-plan and square-footage to amenities.
Senior-specific community features like ground-floor/single-story units, year-round grounds and landscaping maintenance, trash removal, exercise facility, pool/lake access are exactly what downsizing Boomers are looking for. Are you marketing these assets to this lucrative renter base?
-Boomers (Potentially) Pay Higher Rents: Boomers are likely to spend more (than most Gen X/Ys) on higher rents.[vii] If they are downsizing, many have had mortgages to deal with, so they are accustomed to paying a substantial rate for their housing.
-Location, Location, Location, Nope, Not This Time. When Baby Boomers relocate, they typically stay put for a while. And although location is the number one factor Gen Ys privilege when choosing a place to live, other factors, like family proximity, work, specific amenities, retirement community etc., all influence how boomers decide on housing.
It Pays to Start Marketing to Boomers
Start marketing to Boomers now. Over the next 18 years, this generation will make up 19% of the population, that’s up from 13% today.[viii] Therefore, the number of older renters needing to relocate and reimagine their lives is substantial. Be mindful not to alienate renters over 50 by marketing too heavily to Gen-Ys and Gen-Xers.
Remember, marketing to boomers can pay off, boosting your property management business and enhancing your business strategies.
[i] Gringberg, Emanuella. Boomers will redefine notions of age. CNN.com
[ii] Masnick, George. Over the Next Two Decades, Baby Boomers Will Age in Place. Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies.
[iii] Fiur, Jessica. MHN Interview: Landmark Apartment Trust of America’s CEO on Recapitalization and Baby Boomers. Multihousingnews.com.
[iv] Fiur, Jessica. MHN Interview: Landmark Apartment Trust of America’s CEO on Recapitalization and Baby Boomers. Multihousingnews.com.
[v] Fiur, Jessica. MHN Interview: Landmark Apartment Trust of America’s CEO on Recapitalization and Baby Boomers. Multihousingnews.com.
[vi] Gringberg, Emanuella. Boomers will redefine notions of age. CNN.com
[vii] Fiur, Jessica. MHN Interview: Landmark Apartment Trust of America’s CEO on Recapitalization and Baby Boomers. Multihousingnews.com.
[viii] Masnick, George. Over the Next Two Decades, Baby Boomers Will Age in Place. Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies. Epley, Cole. Baby boomers becoming ever more lucrative as residential renter demographic. Bizjournals.com.