Baby Boomers have the second largest share in 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 answer this question.
First, I will analyze who they are and how they behave (including during the most recent pandemic).
Then I will look into the trends and statistics, what they want in a house, and which media they consume.
Knowing all this information is vital to create the right real estate marketing strategy and using the proper marketing channels to reach them.
At the end of my article, I will give you a marketing approach considering this information.
Because as always, you must know your target group well enough before you target them with your marketing campaigns.
How Does the Baby Boomer Demographic Behave – Trends and Statistics
First of all, the Baby Boomer generation followed the Silent Generation and was born between 1946 and 1964.
The term already describes why this generation is called that way – 76 million Americans were born during this time.
According to Census data cited in Wikipedia (source), as of 2019, 71.6 million boomers had been living in the United States 2019.
Younger Boomers made for 18% of all homebuyers in 2019, the median age was 60 years, and the highest numbers of single female buyers (21%) 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, ten 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 with a median size of 1,800 square feet.
Another interesting buying behavior 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 their purchases.
For the down payment, 49% used savings, 46% used the cash they got from selling another property, and 7% used an inheritance.
Some obstacles to financing the home purchase included student debt, not student loans from their past, but 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, and the median age is 68.
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%)
They own the highest share of investment and vacation properties 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 moving 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 clause to them.
The quality of the neighborhood and the convenience of reaching friends and family moved the needle when it came to a purchase decision.
How do they behave before and during the purchase process?
Chances are the next home they would purchase would be the last one they would live in.
Therefore, older boomers were less poised to make any compromises.
This was the case for 49% of this group (source).
Also, these baby boomers relied greatly on real estate agents for the home-finding and buying process. They were the most satisfied with the buying process (94%) (source).
What does the financing situation look like?
Compared to the younger boomers, the median income of the older ones was $83,200, lower than for all buyers ($91,600).
In 54% of the cases, the down payment for a loan came from the sale of another property, and in 5%, it came from an IRA account.
They also had 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, the sale of a primary residence very often helps boomers make the down payment.
And 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 because, later in this article, we can use this information to market to the baby boomer home buyers and sellers.
What Is Trending the Most with Baby Boomers
Another aspect to consider 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 unsure if this trend is still a thing with Covid-19 and the behavioral changes I discuss further below.
But reportedly, the number of renters in urban areas over 55 increased by 28%.
This is because 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 communities are especially attractive to boomers because they provide walkable, engaging, and active neighborhoods.
Unlike the more isolated traditional retirement communities, these new ones are now integrated into larger, established cities or communities. (source)
3) Rural Living
You probably have heard of the term “snowbirds.”
These people, mainly retirees, live 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 lifestyle might not be that popular with boomers.
A trend can be noted that rural settings are getting 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 increased by 169% between 2010 and 2017.
It can also be interpreted as an increased desire for rural living.
Retirees can enjoy wide open spaces, more affordable housing options, and interstate travel ease.
This trend didn’t appear just recently.
However, 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 Boomers Mostly Desire
The overarching theme for the most desired features comes down to 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 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, ignoring the recent pandemic is almost impossible.
And due to this situation, some behavioral changes can be noted in the housing market for all generations.
But since I focus on the Baby Boomers in this article, we will closely examine this group.
The information I will present is not empirical. Still, we can derive some behavioral changes from it that can give us further clues for the overall Covid-induced boomer behavior.
According to realtor.com, the question of when and where to retire became more urgent because of the pandemic.
One baby boomer reports that she changed her plans to move to an urban area in Southern California.
Now she will move to a rural area, where she would be “out of the rat race and out of the panic.”
The pandemic 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 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 economic nature.
It’s about a 66-year-old baby boomer living in Boston.
Due to the lockdowns, his work hours and his salary were drastically reduced, so he couldn’t fulfill his goal of earning the biggest social security income by the age of 70.
He planned to buy a “beach-bum” place in Florida and realized the time to realize dreams was now.
So 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:
- Higher motivation and urgency to sell houses in urban areas could mean price reductions due to more offers that enter the market.
- Increasing demand for houses in suburban or rural areas 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 essential 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 move this plan a bit higher up on their agenda, and it could be done earlier than later.
The same is true about the selling motivation, which was relatively 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 creating 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.
Boomers’ top three online activities are search engines (96%), email (96%), and shopping for products and services.
Another offline marketing channel that seems to perform better is television.
But this is merely a channel that sparks the motivation to look online for more information (using search engines, source).
So, the best bet for online marketing is to use search engine marketing as a marketing channel.
So, the two marketing channels to focus on to best reach the boomers could be search engine optimization via content marketing 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.
We would use the Google Search Ads approach to get results sooner, but you will need some capital.
To learn more about how to use Google Search Ads for real estate marketing, I invite you to read my article on this topic.
I will give you a rather 10,000-foot view of a possible marketing strategy in today’s article.
Marketing to Boomer Buyers
When marketing to this age group, the first thing is selecting the right promotional offer.
From the above information, we now know what they prefer.
You can take the direct route and offer a particular property right away or indirectly.
It depends on your copywriting skills for the offer landing page you will use with Google Search Ads (what is usually recommended).
First, offer something for free, which is typically some kind of a real estate lead magnet.
When using the direct route, I would, for example, focus on promoting single-story homes in rural areas on the landing page with, let’s say, an enclosed sunroom.
You want to address some of their needs for a great lead magnet (read about creating a lead magnet in this article).
You could, for example, offer a short eGuide or a free Video-Course about the targeted area’s rural lifestyle.
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.
You could have the Google Search Ads shown only in urban areas.
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).
Again, it all comes down to testing, which I discussed 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 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 want 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 for boomer buyers.
It will also be done through Google Search ads, but this time with a slightly different angle and a separate real estate landing page.
According to the above anecdotal evidence, some boomers want to get rid of their houses to move to a more retirement-friendly area.
We also know that they often have to sell their primary residence before buying their new home.
This campaign can get tricky since you will compete with all the advertisers in the respective area.
These advertisers 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.
If you think more about the intention of someone searching with these keywords, you will conclude that these are rather sellers 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 (discussed in this article).
For them, “cold calling” (read my article 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 “ninja trick” is to use keywords that speak to boomer buyers at first glance (since they often need to sell their primary residence first).
You can then combine this with the right ad and landing page copy.
There, you could communicate that you can also help sell their home first.
You could still do a single landing page, but this time either with a lead magnet related to the respective keywords, an editorial, or a combination of both.
Again it depends on the keywords you will be using.
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.
Still, due to the high click costs of the highly competitive keywords, it likely works better to go with the lower competition ones.
This article has been reviewed by our editorial team. It has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policy.
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