Home design priorities changing as owners age in place
| July 08, 2020
With the largest percentage of homeownership and length of stay, as well as home asset value, the 55-plus market continues to drive demand for home design, remodeling and renovation services.
Older homeowners are more likely to hire a professional when undertaking design and renovation projects, and they tend to spend more on average per project. With many choosing to remain in their current home, they are shifting their attention from redesign to renovations that will support their future needs.
Beginning around 2017, as home prices increased and more long-term homeowners decided for economic and personal reasons not to relocate, demand for design and remodeling services soared. MetroStudy’s Residential Remodeling Index went from a reading of 105 in late 2016 to 120 by the fourth quarter of 2019.
Many firms experienced double-digit annual revenue growth several years in a row. With the economy on surer footing and employment stable, owners who had been spooked by the housing bubble burst that set off the Great Recession, once again felt confident to invest in improving their homes.
After years of delaying improvements, 55-plus homeowners were eager to remodel and renovate kitchens, bathrooms and living areas, upgrade appliances and fixtures, and refreshen interior décor. Having completed those projects, and still intent on remaining in their current home, they now are planning changes and improvements that will make the home safer, more comfortable and more supportive in the years to come.
Affirming this trend, findings from the recently released 2020 Houzz & Home survey show that baby boomers who participated accounted for more than half (55%) of home renovation projects in 2019 and were most likely (89%) to hire a professional to assist with their project. Along with seniors (54%), they also were most likely (51%) to hire a design-related professional.
In releasing the report, Marine Sargsyan, Houzz senior economist, observed, “Baby Boomers, particularly those who have been in their homes for more than six years, are continuing to drive renovation activity and spend, bringing consistency to the market as they pursue projects that will allow them to age in place for the next decade or more.”
Homeowners age 55 and older last year were less likely to engage in decorating projects than were younger homeowners. Along with kitchen remodels, which remain the number one project for homeowners of all ages, they most often chose to renovate a guest bathroom or master bathroom. They were least likely to purchase large furniture, storage or organization equipment, or outdoor living furnishings.
Similarly, the results of the American Institute of Architects’ Q2 2020 Home Design Survey indicate that accessibility and overall designs for aging in place top the list of popular home layout designs, with 1 in 6 respondents reporting requests for overall aging-in-place designs, easier accessibility inside the home, and easier accessibility into and out of the home. In addition, although all residential sectors experienced declines in activity late in the first quarter as a result of the COVID-19 health emergency, kitchen and bath projects were the least likely to be affected.
For the foreseeable future, the 55-plus market will continue to dominate the home design, remodeling and renovation sectors. But as their needs change, so will the projects and services they will require. Professionals will need to adjust their offerings and marketing to accommodate these changes and demonstrate their value in a competitive marketplace.
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