What a Growing Senior Population Could Mean for Arizona Real Estate

Lauren Schneider

Military Home Search

Over a decade ago, it was believed that one in four residents in Arizona would be over the age of 60 by 2020. In 2018, it was estimated that 17.8% of the population consisted of persons 65 years and over—so the state may very well be on track to hit that projection. Of these seniors, many may want to live at home for as long as possible. If they feel that they cannot stay in their current home, they may choose to downsize over moving to assisted living. Aging in place is a concept that is gaining traction in the US, and the right house can enable a senior homeowner/buyer to maintain independence for many years beyond retirement. With some potentially significant changes on the horizon, real estate professionals may want to take notice.

More and More Seniors Opt to Age in Place

Nursing home populations are down, and many facilities are closing their doors. In-home care is one of the reasons why this is happening. In many cases, in-home care is at least as affordable as nursing home care. Seniors who wish to stay at home can do so with help from an affordable in-home care giver. Another reason that seniors are now able to stay at home is because age in place upgrades are becoming so common.

There are many characteristics that can make a home senior-friendly. Features like curbless showers, grab bars, wheelchair ramps and stair lifts all make it possible for older adults to live at home in relative safety and independence. Often, these features are built into the structure of the home, or are easily added. Safety is a top priority for many seniors, because they are so vulnerable to slips and falls. As a result, many seniors seek homes with soft floors, few stairs and good lighting. Finally, many seniors prefer a home that is easy to maintain. A compact size and a small yard enable older people to take care of their own property, maintain their own garden and grass, and clean their home on their own. But what happens when someone would like to opt for in-home care, but their home cannot be affordably modified to accommodate for aging in place?

In a 2018 study by AARP, people age 50+ were asked about where they live, and what preferences or plans they have surrounding that topic. 76% agreed with the statement “What I’d like to do is remain in my current residence as long as possible.” 77% agreed with the statement: “What I’d really like to do is remain in my community for as long as possible.” While many would like to stay in their current home, remaining in the same community may be one of the main concerns they have when it comes to housing. Extrapolating this data, one might assume that many seniors may choose to stay in their homes as long as they reasonably can, and – when that home can no longer suit their needs – they may decide to sell and look for nearby housing that suits (or can be retrofitted to suit) their needs.

What this Means for Real Estate Professionals

A growing senior population means that the coming years may see an increase in senior home buyers and sellers—many with very specific needs in mind. As a result, age-in-place features may become more valuable due to increased demand. Homes with age-in-place-friendly features don’t prohibit other age groups from owning and enjoying them, so it’s possible more homes are designed with these features in mind if there is a minimal cost difference between adding them or not. Homeowners in certain areas that are looking to make their home more marketable may highlight features that may appeal to those who are downsizing to age in place.

Seniors who need to move but who are reluctant to live in assisted living may turn to real estate agents for help. Real estate agents who understand these needs as well as the market can help their clients find or build homes that they can live in happily. These same clients may also need help selling their current home. It’s possible that people searching for their “forever home” may consider homes with age-in-place features even if they won’t be “needed” for many years.

Many real estate agents take pride in providing helpful information and solving issues for buyers and sellers, and this is no different. The types of problems they solve will naturally shift or evolve as their market does, and preparing for these trends in advance can help ensure an agent is ready to take them on. Asking questions will help buyers and sellers explore these topics and come to conclusions that can help them enjoy a safe and happy life at home.