Three agents in Los Angeles, Denver and Jacksonville say baby boomers are requesting accessible bathrooms as they begin planning to age in place.
Scrub-a-dub-dub, out with the tub?
According to Houzz’s latest bathroom trends report, baby boomers (aged 55+) are ditching the tub and investing in accessible bathroom features such as a more open bathroom layout, seated showers, grab bars, low curbs and non-slide floors.
Denver-based Live Urban Real Estate broker associate Kelly Kozlowski says she agrees with Houzz’s findings and that she’s noticed an increased demand for accessible features amongst the baby boomer crowd as they begin searching for what will likely be their last home purchase.
“The biggest thing I hear about is having no tubs or a lower clearance so they don’t have to step over the bathtub to get into the shower,” she said. “That definitely seems to be happening in our high-rises downtown that are attractive to our baby boomers here in Denver.”
Beyond bathroom upgrades, Kozlowski says this generation favors single floor plans and having a laundry room on the main level, which eliminates the fall risk associated with stairs.
“[The homes] need to be easily accessible and useful for them for the next 10 to 15 years,” she noted.
F. Ron Smith of Smith & Berg Partners team at Compass in Los Angeles says baby boomers are looking for master bathrooms that are accessible yet fashionable, and bathrooms with an open floor plan are in high demand.
“The spaces are open with glass that provides transparency, and there is no need for a bathtub,” Smith said.
He said clients request oversized steam showers with no clearance and that deep (36 inches high) in-shower benches offer comfort for buyers who are concerned about losing their balance on a wet floor. Furthermore, railings are fitted with stylish and sleek finishes that match the bathroom’s overall design.
“The key is access with style,” he said.
Michael Morris, a National Association of Realtors’ Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES) in Jacksonville, Florida, says baby boomers, especially the ones 65 and under, are beginning to think about aging in place what it takes to get that done.
“I’ve noticed it more with baby boomers than I have previously, I do see more awareness around having a more accessible floor plan,” Morris said. “More baby boomers want to stay in place rather than move to assisted housing or whatever the case may be.”
Specifically, he says baby boomers are creating bigger bathrooms so if they need to install railing, benches or another feature in the future, it can easily be done.
So, should sellers begin overhauling their bathrooms before placing them on the market? Kozlowski says it’s something that can be discussed based on the neighborhood, price point and home’s square footage.
“All of that’s going to help us know if we need to be marketable to a baby boomer versus a millennial,” she said.
If a seller does decide to invest in accessible bathroom features, they should be aware that it will only bump the home’s value up by 5 percent to 8 percent depending on the market.
“I think the overall value on those upgrades would be smaller than you’d see in just a renovation of a kitchen or a bathroom,” she said.