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Boomer bubble influences development of housing for seniors

Times Colonist (Victoria): Wed 12 Sep 2007

We've been reminded for a number of years that Canada’s population is greying, but it's just greying around the temples so far.

The latest Altus Clayton Housing Report, put together by a Toronto-based research group, says that the over-75 crowd -- which it defines as seniors -- is growing. But, the report notes, it will be another 15 years before the demographic bubble has reached that far.

The report examines the implications of the aging population for the seniors' housing market, which is defined as accommodation developed and operated for profit and geared to those 75 or older -- such as retirement homes, apartments, assisted and independent living projects, but not government-regulated nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

According to the report, the majority of the aging population sits in the age group of 55- to 74-year-olds. People in this group are not considered seniors but are the "primary lifestyle buyer group."

These boomers are fuelling the recreation housing industry by buying weekend escapes, holiday havens and future retirement homes in the Okanagan, Sylvan Lake, Montana, Arizona and Mexico, and will remain the dominant group for the next decade.

"This represents the aging of the early baby-boomers into this age cohort -- the oldest baby boomers were about 60 years old at the time of the 2006 census and the youngest about 40," says the report. "It's not until that baby boom starts to head into the 75 and over age groups that the boom in seniors' housing will take place."

What the report suggests is that the country's builders should, if they haven't already, start making plans to provide housing for the over-75 gang.

Not only is the population getting older, it's more affluent and more demanding about what it wants its homes to look like and the amenities that are included. Here's what the report says seniors want:

- On the demand side: Today's seniors are better off financially, partly because of the rapid equity gains accrued from house-price escalation, and can afford to live in seniors' developments.

- On the supply side: A growing number of developers have recognized this niche market and are focusing more on marketing to this grey-haired gang.

But getting back to those on the cusp of senior citizenry, they have broken trail, so to speak, in what is being made available and how it is being marketed.

"In some markets, lifestyle buyers have accounted for a larger share of new housing demand than would be expected based on demographics alone because local developers and builders increasingly offer housing specifically designed to attract these buyers," says the Altus Clayton report.

- Staying put: Many in the senior set really don't want to move. They're comfortable, thank you very much, surrounded by friends and creature comforts.

Because they have the financial wherewithal, they can renovate their homes to adapt to their changing needs.


- Consider providing a wide array of tenure -- even in the same building.

- Not everybody wants to live in a studio apartment, so provide a selection of housing forms.

- Lifestyle and independence, regardless of physical limitations, are still the goals of seniors, so provide appropriate amenities.

- Outside the home, residents might enjoy relaxing in an atrium or using some other type of common-area amenity.

- As residents age, they might require increased levels of health care. Developments should include accommodation for independent living right up to long-term care.
Posted on Tuesday, October 9, 2007 at 06:04PM by Registered CommenterElaine in | CommentsPost a Comment | References1 Reference

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