There's life after 55, specifically within the 55+ housing market. A panel of experts convened by the National Association of Home Builders to address reporters at the 2012 International Builders Show in Orlando said Thursday that while their individual expectations of market recovery were not being met, the segment overall was experiencing a slow growth which began in 2011.
This trend is expected to continue through 2012 as the population continues to grow, and seek new homes and communities that offer the lifestyles they want and amenities that they will grow to require.
"NAHB is projecting that the number of housing starts in 55+ communities will increase 18 percent to 53,200 units in 2012, and another 25 percent, to 66,600 in 2013," said Paul Emrath, NAHB's vice president of survey and housing policy research.
According to Emrath, the multifamily segment of the 55+ housing market is doing particularly well, with an estimated 57 percent increase to 21,300 starts in 2011, and further increases in the forecast of 25,400 new apartments in 2012 and 29,100 in 2013.
The NAHB reports that, given current market forecasts, the 55+ housing market is expected to continue to gradually improve over the next few years. "Nevertheless, this market remains fragile as many people in this sector who would like to purchase a new home are having difficulties selling their existing homes," noted Emrath. "The issues constraining their ability to sell are the same issues restraining the overall single-family housing market - low appraisals, a large supply of foreclosures and tighter mortgage lending criteria."
Builders' individual understanding of the market base is the key for expanded growth. "The 55+ builders who are doing well in these challenging times are innovative and creative and are in touch with their customer base," said W. Don Whyte, president of Kennecott Land in South Jordan, Utah, and incoming chairman of NAHB's 50+ Housing Council. "Successful builders also continually conduct market research on buyer's preferences and needs."
"Meeting the needs of buyers in the 55+ market involves having a more focused and targeted strategy on how to design, build and market new homes," said Whyte. "Successful builders and developers in the current market will encompass this approach."