The Baby Boomers, a massive middle-aged generation born between 1946-64, are a promising group of home buyers, according to the latest annual study conducted by Del Webb, a developer of active adult communities. There are an estimated 27 million Baby Boomers ages 40-45, and about 4.5 million of them turn 40 this year.

According to the study, about 75 percent of Baby Boomers who are 40-45 said they plan to buy a new home when they retire. About 33 percent now own two homes or would consider owning two homes. About 60 percent of this younger group said they want to live within a one-hour drive of their present residence when they retire, while about 16 percent of the elder Boomers make that same demand.

About 80 percent of these younger Boomers said retirement is a goal in their future, and 15 percent predict their marriages will improve after they quit their main careers. Only 6 percent said that going back to school is a top priority and 4 percent said they want to open their own business.

About 25 percent of the 40-45 Baby Boomers will consider purchasing a home in an age-restricted active adult community when they retire, which represents the potential for 6 million new residents in those communities. About 20 percent of these Boomers plan to retire between the ages of 51-55, and about half said they are not sure whether they will have enough money to live comfortably in retirement.

These future active adult community residents want high-speed Internet connections, social activities and lots of security in those communities, the survey found.

“Despite predictions by pundits that the concept of retirement is dead, these youngest Boomers confirm that retirement is not only alive, but strongly desired,” said Dave Schreiner, vice president of active adult business development of Pulte Homes and Del Webb. “The setting they prefer for retirement is a more urban, entertainment-oriented environment. That’s a shift from earlier segments of Boomers who have wanted a more suburban or resort-style setting where leisure activities revolve around physical activities, such as golf. It will be interesting to see if these youngest of Boomers eventually change their minds.”

Del Webb has conducted a national Baby Boomer Survey for the past six years. This latest survey was conducted by Harris Interactive among 1,174 people who are 40-70. The margin of error is about 3 percentage points. The comprehensive 2004 Baby Boomer study will be released in June and will focus primarily on Boomers becoming empty nesters after their children leave home.

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Send tips or a Letter to the Editor to glenn@inman.com or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 137.

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