Did you know seniors are more willing to accept smaller lots? Younger buyers want more square footage? And all buyers want a full-sized laundry room! All this and more is what you can read about in the National Association of Home Builders 2019 housing survey. Seniors and boomers, having raised their children and barbequed in their backyard, are now pretty much indifferent to lot size. Over a quarter of boomers and seniors have no minimum lot requirement at all. In other words, they are ready for townhouse or condo living where all exterior maintenance and lawn care are taken care of for them. They are part of a ‘lock and leave’ demographic. They frequently travel to visit grand kids or might even have a second home in the lower 48 to get away from Alaska’s dark winters.
Younger buyers, however, are more interested in lot size. Thirty-eight per cent of millennials and 37 per cent of Gen X want at least an acre of land. Although this is a national statistic, it is especially true in Alaska where having a piece of the great outdoors is one reason people come to and stay in Alaska. In Anchorage, that means moving to the hillside where the minimum lot price for an acre is about $130,000. Then, add well and septic and the cost increases to nearly $200,000. Depending on the size of the home, buyers are now looking at somewhere between $650,000 and $800,000 for a home on that acre plus lot.
These buyers also want more space in their home and garage. Most likely it’s a triple car garage at least 24 feet in depth to fit that F-150 full bed truck. There’s also that extra ‘flex’ room with a yet to be determined use. It’s just the idea of having more space than in the two bedroom condo or three bedroom townhouse they are currently renting or owning. The open living concept is strongly preferred by 49% of these buyers. Another 37% prefer the kitchen and dining area partially open. In other words, builders should throw out those plans that segregate first floor living space. Today’s buyers could care less about a formal living or dining room.
It’s no surprise that boomers and seniors want single story living. Here in Alaska over 15% of all sales reported by MLS in 2018 were ranches. In popular new subdivisions like Huffman Timbers in southeast Anchorage almost a third of the fifty foot wide lots have ranch homes built on them.
According to the report, basements are more popular in cooler climates and, again, Alaska is no exception. Almost all new homes in Alaska are built with at least a four foot crawl space rather than the slab on grade that’s popular in warmer climates. The most popular basement is a walk-out followed by a daylight. A minimum eight foot ceiling height is important and so are lots of windows to maximize livability.
Now, back to that full-size laundry room. I was surprised to find out that 70% of all home buyers now prefer it on the first floor. It seems like just ten years ago we moved it upstairs to be near the bedrooms! I’m going to have to take my own Alaskan survey on that one.