As the housing slump continues unabated in many areas of the country, and the housing economists have yet to pinpoint an end to it, the need for a laugh or two has become more than necessary.
ERA recently provided one with a survey of baby boomers showing that more of them would prefer having Oprah Winfrey as their "celebrity" real estate agent over Donald Trump.
The survey of 1,000 Americans 50 years and older found that one out of five survey respondents plan to move in the next five years and family emerged as one of the clearest priorities for respondents when considering real estate options. Three out of four say it is important to be near their family when considering their next move.
Further, when considering buying a new home, 43 percent would purchase a home to be closer to work or family -- up 10 percent from last year's survey results. For those considering an active adult community, family and friends should be nearby for 70 percent of those surveyed.
For those in the market for a second or vacation home, nearly half (45 percent) would buy such a property for other family members.
Vacation-home buyers should consider their decisions very carefully. Destination areas such as Florida, California and Arizona are filled with homes purchased by investors who are in danger of defaulting on their mortgages, according to a recent report from the Mortgage Bankers Association. Buyers may find plenty of inventory from which to choose, and if they need to finance their purchase, they need to choose wisely.
Respondents were clear in their visions for where they want to live – and single family homes won out over active adult communities. Of the one in five thinking about moving in the next five years, 65 percent would most consider a single family home. About one-quarter (24 percent) of survey respondents said the reason they would buy a new home would be to upsize compared with 15 percent last year.
Of those who own single family homes, 11 percent would consider purchasing a condo, townhouse or apartment.
Active adult communities are becoming more attractive -- only 2 percent were considering such a home last year, compared with 6 percent this year. The numbers still are much lower than the hopeful projections of a decade ago.
The National Association of Home Builders recently said that numbers suggest room for significant growth in age-qualified active adult housing, but so far that segment of the marketplace hasn't reached its potential.
A study by NAHB housing analysts Paul Emrath and Helen Fei Liu found that of the 69 million owner-occupied housing units in the country, age-qualified active adult housing -- communities that generally require residents to be 55 or older, based on the provisions of the 1995 Housing for Older Persons Act -- accounts for just under one million, about a 1.4 percent share. In sharp contrast, the researchers found that most 55+ households live in other communities.
Although 55 percent of 50-plus ERA survey respondents say they currently have their dream home, there is room for improvement for those who don't.
A designer kitchen or outdoor deck/entertainment area are the two most desired luxury enhancements respondents' dream homes would feature (76 and 75 percent, respectively). Other dream extras would include pristine landscape (71 percent), indoor sauna or hot tub (53 percent) or a home theater (46 percent). Not as dreamy is an Olympic-sized swimming pool (32 percent) and only 13 percent would desire to have a home on a golf course.
A 2007 study of all buyers by the National Association of Realtors found that increasing numbers wanted garages with two or more spaces in their homes.
Since the last survey in 2004, oversize garages saw the biggest growth in terms of what recent buyers considered very important in a home, gaining 16 percentage points to 57 percent. Among buyers who purchased homes without this feature, 56 percent of them said they would have paid more for an oversize garage, compared to only 6 percent in the 2004 survey.
Other priorities for today's home buyers include air conditioning, with three out of every four respondents ranking this as "very important," and a walk-in closet in the master bedroom, which was very important to 53 percent of respondents. Hardwood floors and granite countertops each gained 7 percentage points from the 2004 survey, with 28 percent and 23 percent, respectively, of buyers viewing these features as "very important." Gaining 6 percentage points was cable/satellite TV-ready, at 46 percent.
The ERA survey asked what kinds of neighbors the 50-plus buyers wanted. Of the possible 2008 presidential candidates who could be neighbors, Hillary Clinton was in the lead. Champion golfer Tiger Woods is the celebrity that boomers and seniors think would make the best neighbor (24 percent).