Manny Gonzalez – Rethinking the 55+ Buyer


April 25, 2018

Four strategic thinkers (and doers) specializing in the 55+ housing market talked about today’s buyer in the Spring issue of the NAHB 55+ Housing online magazine and what builders need to do to attract more buyers to their projects. Below is an excerpt from that conversation. You can subscribe to the magazine to read the entire story and other features in the latest issue.

Most marketers know never to underestimate the importance of a detailed, graphics-rich website for their new home communities – but it’s even more important now, said Betsy Sheppard, president and CEO of Gilbert & Sheppard Group.

“Today’s 55+ home buyers are armed with mobile phones, iPads and social media tools, and they know how to use them. They look for how companies are rated and how people commented about their products and services. They are knowledgeable and informed when they enter the sales center, and the agent needs to be ready to demonstrate and deliver on what technology and social media has promised.”

They are seeking convenience, experiences and value, said Jeff McQueen, president of Trilogy by Shea Homes. These shoppers “are looking for a community that goes beyond a quality home and inviting neighborhood. More than ever, 55+ buyers are placing importance in events, programming and amenity activation within a club over the size of the spaces within the building,” he said.

“Today’s 55+ home buyer is seeking home designs that are conducive to their immediate needs like extra workspaces, suites or casitas separate from main living areas or split floor plans that can be easily transformed for new uses in the years to come.”

“They are free to select their next home based on amenities, location, price and other factors,” said Jim Chapman, president of Jim Chapman Communities. “They want to live in a community that suits their needs, often near a major city, but not necessarily in the city.”

“They want something new and fresh and fun,” said Manny Gonzalez, principal of KTGY Architecture + Planning. “While some may still want to live in the large-scale, age-qualified master plans we have been building since the 1960s, most are looking for something different, something that gives them social opportunities beyond the community gates.”

However, an increasing number of buyers aren’t willing to sink all the equity from their current home, let alone a significant chunk of their savings, into their new ones. “Many 55+ homebuyers either cannot or choose not to spend a half-million dollars or more on a new home,” Chapman said.

“There is tremendous opportunity to provide these buyers with high quality homes in a price point ranging from $200,000 to $300,000. Today’s buyer wants to sell their existing home and keep some of the cash to enjoy, rather than investing all of it back into a home.”