Affordability, Amenities Attract Boomer-Senior Renter Demand
- The share of baby boomer and senior renter segments is similar across all property types.
- The boomer-senior segment constitutes a higher share of all renters within large multifamily properties compared to small multifamily.
- Metros with higher shares of older renters in multifamily properties are also those that are most affordable.
Location and Amenities Attract Senior Demand
Older renters are increasingly becoming a significant driver of urban multifamily demand. The Pew Research Center’s cohort classifications define baby boomers as those born between 1946 and 1964, while seniors are those born before 1946.
By downsizing and going back into the rental market, the baby boomer-senior age group can enjoy the financial benefit of accessing their built-up household equity. Walkability, convenience and access to a variety of services attract aging Americans to certain cities.
Large apartment properties, which often have more amenities, are particularly well-positioned to benefit from rising senior demand. Downtown settings offer proximity to medical and healthcare facilities, and other aging-in-place needs of the retiree segment. Overall, renting rates among boomers and seniors were similar, at around 20%, across property types, according to the 2018 American Community Survey.
At the same time, senior renters are more concentrated in large apartment properties than small multifamily.
Top Destinations for Boomer-Senior Renters
Affordability remains a critical factor in determining boomer-senior rental choices. Metros with the highest shares of this age segment in multifamily properties are also those with lower average rents.
Within small multifamily, cities with the highest boomer-senior shares included Hartford (33%), Pittsburg (32%), Providence (31%), Cleveland (29%) and St. Louis (29%). These were all above the national average of 23%.
As covered in our recent blog, these urban centers also have significantly lower average rent levels as compared to the national average of $1,117 per month.
Turning to large multifamily, the boomer-senior share of national demand totaled 37%. Metros at the top of the list included Providence (69%), Detroit (60%), Omaha (59%), Louisville (58%), Pittsburg (56%) and St. Louis (54%). Similarly, these metros were also among the most affordable.
For property owners and operators looking to forecast future tenant demand, smaller, less expensive areas should remain competitive in attracting new boomer-senior residents. Retrofitting properties to support accessibility, amenities and community participation could be good strategies to deploy to capture this growing demand source.
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Note: All data is sourced from the American Community Survey (ACS), unless otherwise stated. ACS statistics are sample-based estimates of the compositional profile of the total population in the given year of data collection, and include a margin of error. Small multifamily, based on the ACS data, is defined as structures with 5 to 49 units.