Guest Blog: Are Baby Boomers Choosing Rental Flexibility?

rents grow

By Sean Miller, president of PointCentral

The attraction of a more convenient, turn-key lifestyle is encouraging more senior citizens to try renting. Baby boomers are deciding to take advantage of what is still a buoyant housing market, selling their largest asset and either renting until they downsize or renting long term. This generation is the fastest growing renter sector in the US with the trend playing out in the UK as well – unsurprising when traditionally seniors have a sizeable amount of capital tied up in property.

Could it be strong market prices which are driving this move towards the rental sector? Certainly, this is one factor at play as more than half of homes in the US are selling at or above list price. However, the desire to release pent-up cash is not the only driver – smart tech and convenience are also motivating baby boomers to look at renting with fresh eyes. No longer do they see renting as a temporary stop gap option when selling up and downsizing. Instead, boomers are actively choosing to rent.

Generation rent – top 3 considerations for seniors

Seniors looking to rent will naturally have a different set of priorities to millennials, for example (another generation growing the rental sector). Modern, safe and energy-efficient rental properties with the added benefits of smart home amenities will attract baby boomers. Smart tech features appeal to this generation, as long as they are easy to use and provide clear lifestyle or economic benefits. We’ve all spent more time during the pandemic on our smartphones, and boomers are no exception, meaning that tech has become embedded in how we live now.

Here are baby boomers’ top 3 rental considerations:

Convenience

Technology such as keyless entry enables residents to let in deliveries or guests without having to walk to the front door. A complete access history provides transparency and security too. Likewise, voice assistants let them adjust the thermostat, turn on the TV, and play their favourite music without having to get up and do it themselves.

Safety

Independence is valued by seniors and many want to retain this for as long as possible, understandably. Plus assisted living can be a costly option. However, seniors are rightly concerned about keeping safe in their accommodation. Cameras can help loved ones check up on their relatives and monitored life safety services, such as smoke and carbon dioxide alarms and security systems, also add an extra layer of protection for older residents.

Energy savings

Utility bills are a top consideration for seniors on pensions and mindful of budgets. Smart energy-saving devices can bring down heating bills by as much as 12% or cooling costs by 15%, and can even adapt to the resident’s schedule over time so the home is not heated whilst vacant. Smart thermostats can also enable property managers to stay ahead of maintenance and avoid significant costs for residents.

Will boomers continue to rent?

Seniors are realising that by selling up and renting they can sit tight and wait to see what the property market does next. This takes the pressure off buying a new, smaller property as part of a chain transaction and also gives boomers the flexibility to try out a new area or way of living. Moving can be a stressful process and seniors are now embracing the opportunities on offer whilst renting.

By not owning property, seniors are free to try out different areas, perhaps moving closer to friends and family. They can also relax and enjoy a convenient lifestyle in a modern, teched-up property with no responsibility for property maintenance or freehold requirements.

This trend also means that seniors can build their retirement fund, founded on their house sale, as they rent – an appealing prospect.

Multihousing developments are also attractive to this generation because of the convenient services on offer. Many include smart tech ensuring energy savings and greater security, as well as aging-in-place amenities which some might start to rely on. On offer as standard in an adapted rental are wheelchair-friendly wide doorways, ramps and safety bars, for example, which would be costly to install at home.

As long as baby boomers continue to value the convenience afforded by renting and enabled by smart tech, we will see this generation continue to embrace both short-term and long-term rental options. The pandemic and rising house prices have encouraged seniors to try out a more hands-free lifestyle with renting and they are finding it to their liking.

If rental properties include appropriate senior living services, as well as ‘set-and-go’ tech, they will continue to draw in this expanding sector. Boomers will look for safe, convenient and energy-efficient homes whether they decide to continue renting long term or for a shorter period before downsizing.