The Stackable Boomer is my third book and is focused on baby boomers and their interest in multi-family housing (MFH).
With 1,000 boomers surveyed, and leading industry experts polled, I inadvertently may have uncovered what could be the biggest issue facing the multi-family housing development industry for the coming decades. I didn’t set out to discover this boomer housing crisis, but it’s just too big to ignore.
Let me explain.
Affluentials, the unprepared and reluctants
Boomers can be roughly divided into three categories. The wealthiest ones, maybe the top 25 per cent, are moving to MFH because it’s the next great adventure. They want a concierge, acres of marble and built-in espresso machines in every room. The development industry knows how to profitably build for these boomers. In the book I call them the affluentials.
The conventional building industry is going to be hard-pressed to help the bottom 25 per cent of boomers, who I call the unprepared. They’re not ready for retirement, and housing options will need to be very creative. People are working on this.
But by far the largest sub-segment of boomers, maybe 50 per cent of the 160 million boomers in the United States alone, can’t afford the luxury MFH that we build for the affluentials. These are what I call the reluctant boomers, the ones who really would rather stay in their single family home but can’t afford to.
The reluctants have no choice but to sell the house where they raised a family because the equity locked up inside that house is how they’ll fund retirement. They’re grumpy about selling the house and shocked at what MFH options are available to them.
If even a small percentage of the enormous reluctant boomer cohort chooses MFH, it will be a game-changer. So what can we build, and still make a buck on, for these middle-class boomers so they end up falling in love with MFH?
I’ll post some of the most interesting findings here over the coming weeks. What do big thinkers like Douglas Coupland and Larry Beasley have to say about this? I’ll tell you.
And what do 1,000 boomers have to say for themselves? Stay tuned for more.
David Allison works with executive teams in real estate development and other industries to craft the early-stage vision and brand for projects of all kinds. He crystallizes the most interesting version of any story for early stakeholder engagement, internal audiences, regulatory approvals, consultant briefings and investor recruitment. His award-winning work in the real estate sector alone spans decades and continents. His most recent book, The Stackable Boomer, examines the movement of baby boomers to multi-family homes, and includes research results from a 1,000-boomer survey. He can be reached at [email protected].