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What seniors want

April 29, 2014
by Lois A. Bowers, Senior Editor
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There comes a time when many older adults who are experiencing a relatively healthy and active present–and predict more of the same for the near future–face a choice: downsize into a smaller home or move into a continuing care retirement community or other senior living environment.

If you’re competing for residents in this scenario, you may find interesting the results of research conducted by economists from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), reported in the organization's 50+ Housing Magazine. The national survey reveals the interior and community features most attractive to seniors choosing new living spaces.

Interior features

The top three interior features those aged 55 to 64 years and those aged 65 or more years consider essential “must-haves," according to the survey, are (in descending order):

  • An exhaust fan in the bathroom,
  • A laundry room and
  • A ceiling fan.

At least 50 percent of all surveyed home buyers in these age categories say they highly value these features. After the top three, preferences vary by age group. Rounding out the top 10 for those aged 55 to 64:

  • Exterior lighting,
  • A bathroom linen closet and Energy Star-rated windows (tie),
  • Energy Star-rated appliances,
  • Garage storage and an Energy Star rating for the whole house (tie) and
  • Insulation with a higher R value than that required by code.

By contrast, those aged at least 65 years say they also highly value:

  • A bathroom linen closet,
  • Table space for eating,
  • Exterior lighting and Energy Star-rated appliances (tie),
  • Energy Star-rated windows,
  • Garage storage and
  • An Energy Star rating for the whole home.

Community amenities

Outside the living quarters themselves, those aged 55 to 64 and those aged 65 or more years say they most value walking/jogging trails and a park area as community amenities. Next, those aged 55 to 64 years say they most value a lake, an outdoor swimming pool and then an outdoor maintenance service (to clean gutters, cut grass and remove snow), whereas those aged 65 or more years say they most value an outdoor maintenance service, an outdoor swimming pool and then a lake. All survey participants in those age groups also say they value an exercise room as a community amenity. Those aforementioned features, they say, are more important than a convenience store, drug store, playground, public transportation, a clubhouse, tennis courts, arts and crafts and other features.

You can see more survey results, including the interior features those in the “mature market” consider desirable (but not essential), at the links included in this blog, which include information for those wishing to purchase the whole NAHB report.


Lois Bowers

Lois Bowers


Lois A. Bowers was senior editor of Long-Term Living from 2013-2015.