Baby Boomers have the second largest share when it comes to buying new homes, so they shouldn’t be ignored in your marketing efforts.
But what would be the best and most efficient approach to market to them?
This is a question you may ask yourself.
In this article, I will help you in finding an answer to this question and first analyze a bit who they are, how they behave (including now, with Covid-19), what trends and statistics there are, what they want in a house, and which media they consume.
Knowing all this information is important to create the right marketing strategy and to use the right marketing channels to reach them.
At the end of my article, I will give you a marketing approach that takes this information into consideration.
Because, as always, it is important that you know your target group well enough before you target them with your marketing campaigns.
How Does the Baby Boomers Demographic Behave – Trends and Statistics
First of all, the generation called Baby Boomers is the one following the Silent Generation and was born between 1946 and 1964.
The term already describes why this generation is called that way – during this time frame, 76 million Americans were born.
According to Census data cited in Wikipedia (source), as of 2019, 71.6 million boomers had been living in the United States in 2019.
Younger Boomers made for 18% of all homebuyers in 2019, the median age was 60 years, and had the highest numbers of single female buyers (21%) who are in the age group between 54 and 63 years (source).
Ordered from high to low, the main reasons to buy a home were the following:
- The desire to own a home of their own (17%)
- Being closer to family and friends (14%)
- Wanting to live in a better area (10%)
Interestingly, this subgroup took the longest time to find a home, which was 12 weeks, and they needed to view on average 10 homes before making a decision (source).
What about the preferred locations?
Ordered from the highest to lowest preference, these were the most likely locations where they purchased homes:
- Rural areas
- Small towns
Despite having “only” the third-highest median household income at $94,400, they preferred purchasing the second-most expensive homes priced at $250,500, and with a median size of 1,800 square feet.
Another interesting buying behavior to note is that their share of buying multi-generation homes was the second-highest at 16%.
Additionally important to create the right marketing approach for baby boomers is that nine in ten younger boomers purchased their home with the help of a real estate agent or broker (source).
Do They Finance, Too?
Yes, they do.
In fact, 77% of the younger boomers finance 81% of the purchase.
For the down payment, 49% used savings, 46% used the cash they got out of the sale of another property, and 7% an inheritance.
Some obstacles to financing the home purchase included student loan debt, but not student loans from their past, but for their children’s education.
On average, the amount was $30,000 (source).
Now, let’s take a look at the older boomers.
This is the age group between 64 and 72 years, and the median age is 68 years.
The order, from high to low, of the main reasons to buy a home was the following:
- Being closer to family and friends (22%)
- Retirement (19%)
The highest share of investment and vacation properties is owned by them at 10% and 7% respectively (source).
What about the preferred locations?
Ordered from the highest to lowest preference, these were the most often chosen locations where they purchased homes:
- Rural areas
- Small towns
It also seems they have no problem to move greater distances at a median of 30 miles.
Because being close to schools isn’t of great importance to them, understandably they are less likely to purchase homes because of the closeness to them.
What rather moved the needle when it came to a purchase decision was the quality of the neighborhood and the convenience of reaching friends and family.
How Do They Behave Before and During the Purchase Process?
Because of the high likelihood that the home they purchase would be the last home they would be living in, older boomers were less poised to make any compromises on the home.
This was the case for 49% of this group (source).
Also, this group of baby boomers relied greatly on real estate agents for the home finding and buying process, and they were the most satisfied with the buying process (94%) (source).
How Does the Financing Situation Look Like?
Compared to the younger boomers, the median income of the older ones was $83,200, below the one of all buyers ($91,600).
In 54% of the cases, the down payment for a loan came from the sale of another property sale and in 5% of the cases it came from an IRA account.
They had also credit card debt in 67% of the cases, which is quite high (source).
Is There Also Something to Learn About Boomers Being Home Sellers?
From the above, we could already learn that to finance the purchase of a home very often the sale of a primary residence helps boomers to be able to make the down payment.
And actually, older boomers belonged to the second largest share of home sellers (22%) in 2018.
Reasons for selling included (ordered from most likely to less likely):
- Being closer to family and friends (26%)
- Retirement (16%)
According to some studies, they also received the second highest equity (43%) and second highest dollar value ($74,000) (source).
This seller perspective is also important to know, because later in this article, we can use this information not only to market to the baby boomer home buyers but also to the sellers.
What Is Trending the Most with Baby Boomers
Another aspect to take into consideration before starting to market to boomers is what property types are trending most and, thus, are in most demand.
1) Renting in Urban Areas
I am not sure if this trend is still a thing with Covid-19 and the behavioral changes I discuss further down below.
But reportedly the number of renters in urban areas over the age of 55 increased by 28%.
The reason for this is that some retiring boomers prefer to live in a place with conveniences and activity options that urban areas can provide, such as museums, restaurants, theatres, health providers and grocery stores (source).
2) Communities of Like-Minded People
One type of living that attracts boomers are communities consisting of like-minded people.
An example worth mentioning is Latitude Margaritaville in Florida (source).
These types of communities are especially attractive to boomers because they provide walkable, engaging and active neighborhoods.
Different from the more isolated traditional retirement communities, these new ones are now rather integrated into larger, established cities or communities (source).
3) Rural Living
You probably have heard of the term “snow birds”.
These are people mainly retirees that live a period of the year in warmer climates (usually during the colder months in the northern hemisphere), and the other half of the year back home.
As it seems, this kind of lifestyle might be not that popular with boomers.
A trend can be noted that rural settings get more and more popular with them.
Instead of Florida, areas such as Mid-Atlantic and Appalachian regions are preferred.
According to a Wall Street Journal article, migration to counties such as Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee has increased by 169% between 2010 and 2017.
This can also be interpreted as an increased desire for rural living, where retirees can enjoy wide open spaces, more affordable housing options, and interstate travel ease.
Although this is a trend that wasn’t found just recently, it will be confirmed later in my article, when I discuss some behavioral changes of boomers due to the Corona situation.
7 Features of a House That Are Mostly Desired to Boomers
The overarching theme for the most desired features comes down to mainly three: freedom of movement, prevention of accidents and an active lifestyle.
- Single-Story houses and open living concepts to prevent restriction of movement and accidents for aging boomers
- Some luxury with high-end finishes with close proximity to services and amenities
- Houses that need less maintenance (lower maintenance costs, higher energy efficiency)
- Enough space to keep belongings and to be able to entertain friends and family from time to time, and again to prevent restriction of movement
- Purpose-driven spaces, such as a home gym, meditation or yoga room, garden or workshop room
- An enclosed sun room (preferred to a 3 season room)
- An office space
What May Have Changed in the Boomer Behavior Since 2020
As you may have experienced yourself, it’s almost impossible to ignore the Covid-19 situation.
And due to this situation, there are some behavioral changes that can be noted in the housing market for all generations.
But since in this article I focus on the Baby Boomers, we will take a closer look at this group.
While the information I will present is not empirical, we nevertheless can derive some behavioral change from it that can give us further clues for the overall Covid-induced boomer behavior.
According to an interesting article from realtor.com, because of the Corona situation, the question of when and where to retire got a bit more urgent.
One baby boomer reports that she changed her plans of moving to an urban area in Southern California and now will rather move to a rural area, where she would be “out of the rat race and out of the panic”.
The Corona situation has made her realize the benefits of living in a rural area of America.
Another 60-year-old baby boomer couple was motivated by the crisis to sell their house as soon as possible.
Their first selling motivation was the high taxes, having more space than they needed, and no kids in school anymore.
And now they heard that more and more New York City residents wanted to quickly move to the suburbs.
This added to their motivation to sell their home and do the same.
They now prefer to be further away from the city to avoid a too crowded place with a higher population density.
The last case presented in this article is of a rather economical context.
It’s about a 66-year-old baby boomer living in Boston.
Due to the lock-downs, his work hours and his salary were drastically reduced, so he wouldn’t be able to fulfill his goal to earn the biggest social security income by the age of 70.
He now plans to buy a “beach-bum” place in Florida, and realized that the time to realize dreams is now.
So right now he is looking for a cottage or condo near the water.
So, from the above anecdotal evidence, we can derive the following three trends or behavioral changes in baby boomers due to Covid-19 with a grain or two of salt:
- A higher motivation and urgency to sell houses in urban areas, which could mean price reductions in these areas due to a higher number of offers that enter the market.
- An increasing demand for houses in the suburban or rural areas, which could mean price increases due to higher demand.
- The realization of dreams now rather than later and the tendency to downsize.
In my article about demographics and why they are so important to include in your real marketing strategy, I already confirm that boomers will probably downsize.
But I mentioned that they would do this later in life.
However, the current situation may likely move this plan a bit higher up on their agenda and it could be done rather earlier than later.
The same is true about the selling motivation, which was quite low in 2018 according to my article.
This is also something that may likely change, especially in urban areas.
Preferred Media Consumption and the Ideal Marketing Channels to Market to Baby Boomers
The last puzzle piece to create a plan or strategy to market to baby boomers is the question about what preferred media they consume so we know which marketing channels to use with the highest chances of success.
The top three online activities for boomers are search engines (96%), email (96%), and shopping for products and services.
If you think of the print materials that are used in direct mailing campaigns, unfortunately, they don’t seem to be very effective (source).
Another offline marketing channel that seems to perform better is television.
But this is merely a channel that sparks the motivation to then look online for more information (using again search engines, source).
But television ads also do a bit more than that because they have also the largest purchase influence (source).
So, the best bet when it comes to online marketing is to use search engine marketing as a marketing channel.
In this context, I invite you to read my article on doing real estate marketing with Google search ads (source).
When it comes to taking action, search engine marketing seems also to outperform social media and viewing online videos.
So, the two marketing channels to focus on to best reach the boomers could be search engine optimization via content marketing, like I discussed in this article, and pay per click advertising via Google search ads or Bing Ads (this would be the short game, source).
How a Marketing Strategy for Baby Boomers Could Look Like
Since you have better chances to reach the boomers by using search engines for your marketing campaigns, let’s focus on them.
To get faster results, we would use the Google Search Ads approach to get results sooner but you will need some capital for that.
To learn more in-depth on how to use Google Search Ads for real estate marketing, I invite you to read my in-depth article on this topic.
In today’s article, I will give you a rather 10,000 foot view of a possible marketing strategy.
Marketing to Boomer Buyers
When marketing to this age group, the first thing is the selection of the right offer to promote.
From the above information, we now know what they prefer.
Depending on your copywriting skills for the offer landing page you will use with Google Search Ads, you can take the direct route and offer a certain property right away, or the rather indirect route (what is usually recommended) and first offer something for free, which is usually some kind of a lead magnet.
When using the direct route, I would, for example, focus on promoting on the landing page single story homes in rural areas with, let’s say, an enclosed sun-room.
To have a great lead magnet (read about the creation of lead magnet in this article), you want to address some of their needs and could, for example, offer a short eGuide or a free Video-Course about the rural living lifestyle in the targeted area.
You might have an advantage over your competition if your real estate business is already located in a desirable rural area for boomers.
But this becomes more relevant only on the selling side of things and not to generate leads with Google Search Ads, since this can be done independently of the location.
Since you also know that potential buyers are less likely to be found in these rural areas but rather in urban ones (boomers that want to get away from urban areas and size a bit down), you could have the Google Search Ads shown only in urban areas.
Again, it all comes down to testing, something that I discussed in-depth in my article about Google Search Ads.
You could use keywords that are all more or less retirement related.
Just to give you an idea, I found the following keywords by doing a fast keyword research:
- retirement homes
- retirement communities
- senior living communities
- 55 plus communities
- retirement living
- over 55 communities
To target the boomers’ needs in the Ad Copy, a headline of a Search Ad could, for instance, be something like “Affordable 55 plus communities in Georgia”.
Marketing to Boomer Sellers
Depending on where you are coming from, you might have the intention to get a nice deal as a real estate investor from boomer sellers or get a listing contract as a realtor.
This is why you might want to also market to boomer sellers.
The campaign will be similar to the one above to boomer buyers.
It will also be done through Google Search ads, but this time with a slightly different angle and obviously, a different landing page.
Like in the anecdotal evidence from above, some boomers want to get rid of their house to move to a more retirement-friendly area.
What we also know is that very often, they will have to sell their primary residence before they can buy their new home.
This campaign can get a bit more tricky, since you will compete with all the advertisers in the respective area that bid for keywords like “Sell my house” ($12 per click, ouch), or “Need to sell my house” ($11 per click, ouch again).
Using these keywords would increase the costs of testing significantly and if you think more about the intention of someone using these keywords, you will conclude that these are rather sellers that are leaning on the desperate side of things.
This is an opportunity for wholesale investors.
But for wholesalers it is not necessarily important that the sellers they target are boomers.
So other marketing methods could be used too, such as discussed in this article.
For them, “cold calling” (read my article on that here) or prospecting could be another approach.
But let’s get back to Boomer sellers.
To find the right keywords, we would need to be a bit more creative, and look at the behavior of a property owner that wants to sell.
You could enter where they are not yet desperate, but are already looking to sell.
Here, you could use lower competition keywords, such as “realtors in XYZ”, “Real estate agent in XYZ”, etc.
These keywords are less expensive.
Other ones that could be used are even more for browsers or information based searchers, such as “how to sell my home”.
A kind of a “ninja trick” is that you can also use keywords that speak to boomer buyers at first glance (since they often need to sell their primary residence first) and combine this with the right ad and landing page copy.
There, you could communicate that you can also help sell their home first.
Depending on the keywords you will be using, you could still do a single landing page, but this time either with a lead magnet that is related to the respective keywords or an editorial, or a combination of both.
People that use the less expensive keywords are not as close to taking action as the ones typing in “need to sell my house”.
The browser type keywords likely convert fewer clicks to leads, but due to the high click costs of the high competitive keywords, it likely works better to go with the lower competition ones.
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