Attitudes about real estate and the home-buying and selling process are changing among people 50 years of age and older, according to a survey released by ERA Real Estate.

The survey of 1,500 people reflects a stark contrast to the belief that the typical aging homeowner is looking to move to an active adult community and downsize.

Only 8 percent of survey respondents considering a move in the next five years indicated that they might consider purchasing a home in an active adult community, while more than 61 percent said they would consider purchasing a single-family home.

Only 11 percent of respondents felt their current home is too big, and nearly 25 percent thought their home was too small.

The average senior, according to the survey, lives in a house with three or more bedrooms and two or more baths. In addition, respondents cited better home or living conditions as the second most popular reason for buying a new residence.

Seniors also proved to be more savvy and demanding when it comes to technology. In fact, those considering moving in the next five years chose the Internet as the most popular home-buying research method, up from the second most common choice mentioned in study the previous year.

However, while mature consumers showed an increased propensity for the Internet to search for real estate information, nearly 92 percent said they were only somewhat to not at all likely to choose a real estate agent based on Internet research. This may be due in large part because the survey showed an existing relationship with a broker or real estate agent was still the second most popular method for researching real estate.

“These survey results show that as more and more baby boomers turn 50, it is becoming harder to define the increasingly diverse mature consumer,” said Brenda W. Casserly, president and COO, ERA Franchise Systems.

The ERA Real Estate survey also showed respondents’ level of concern for some common economic costs. Despite a historically strong real estate market that has seen continued price increases, more respondents expressed greater concern over prescription drug costs (62 percent), hospital-related costs (60 percent), income and other taxes (59 percent) and gas prices (56 percent) than they did over the price of houses (43 percent).

Other findings included:

  • Respondents named “one point of contact” during the transaction process as the service they are most looking for from a real estate agent.

  • Nearly three out of four respondents own their own home.

  • Nine out of 10 have owned at least one home in their lifetime, while nearly two-thirds have owned two or more homes.

  • Fifty-three percent of respondents have lived in their current residence for more than 10 years.

  • Fifty-seven percent of respondents would prefer to stay within 50 miles of their family during their next move, while 16 percent would consider a move of 1,000 miles or more.

  • Nearly one quarter of respondents have children living with them or who are receiving financial support.

  • Virtually all respondents (96 percent) own a personal computer; three out of four respondents own a DVD player and a cell phone.

  • Respondents ranked in-depth property descriptions and photos or virtual tours as the most important factors when searching for real estate online.

InsightExpress, a professional market research firm headquartered in Stamford, Conn., conducted the survey on behalf of ERA Franchise Systems.

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Send tips or a Letter to the Editor to jessica@inman.com or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 133.

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