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Transwestern: Boomers Downsizing Into Apartments; But They Still Want Amenities Like Home

Transwestern’s upscale Hayworth apartments.

HOUSTON – (By Dale King, Realty News Report) – Many baby boomers facing the reality of advancing age, the hard truth of children moving out for good and the ongoing need and cost of maintaining a large structure are pulling up stakes and leaving the family homestead in favor of apartment living.

But most of them don’t want to give up all the pleasurable things they’ve enjoyed, the special touches and unique coziness that made residing in one’s own personal domicile comfortable and…., well, homey.

The likelihood that these “downsizers” will find what they are looking for in the current multifamily housing market is getting better — and apparently has been for at least the past several years.

Transwestern Development Company, a firm which develops office, multifamily, mixed-use and healthcare projects throughout the United States, just released a compilation of data indicating that “as baby boomers seek to downsize from large homes, developers are increasingly designing apartments specifically for this demographic.”

These boomer-ready units, the data say, include features such as:

  • Larger floorplans, both in terms of square footage and number of bedrooms;

  • More traditional layouts that reflect the homes baby boomers are familiar with;

  • Increased storage spaces both in the apartment units and additional rental spaces in the community;

  • Upscale finishes in kitchens and bathrooms, sometimes including special touches like wine chillers; and

  • Luxury community amenities such as pet services, concierge availability, conference facilities, yoga classes and dry cleaning in a quiet atmosphere.

Mark Culwell, managing director of Multifamily Development at Transwestern, said this information was culled from “a number of sources and actual market results.”

“About three years ago, we were studying high-priced neighborhoods, those in the seven-figure range,” Culwell said. “Traditionally, the price per square foot is higher for smaller units. I noticed an anomaly, an inversion, where per-square-foot rents were higher for three-bedroom units than single-bedroom apartments. And the three-bedroom units we’re fully occupied.”

“We began to investigate and soon found other data” corroborating a newfound interest among older Americans in the larger apartments.

In fact, the exodus of boomers from home, sweet, home to apartment residences may signal the return of demand for three-bedroom dwellings in the overall multifamily market.

To meet the desire for larger spaces, Culwell said, contractors are building a higher percentage of three-bedroom units. For example, he said, Houston has seen “an uptick in demand” for apartments with a trio of sleeping quarters:

  • Occupancy numbers are highest for three-bedroom units, at approximately 94%.

  • Rent growth for three-bedroom units is highest among all unit types at +.03%

“When I was building apartments in the 1980s, I stopped constructing three-bedroom units,” Culwell told “A young couple could buy a house for what they would pay for three bedrooms. That segment of the industry was down for about 25 years. Then, suddenly, three-bedroom apartments are being built again. And not just in the suburbs.”

The trend toward larger multifamily units “is spreading nationally,” he said.

Recent Transwestern data state that as recently as the third quarter of 2017, the average one-bedroom apartment in the U.S. measured 874 square feet; two-bedrooms sized out at 903 square feet and three-bedroom residences rang in at 976 square feet.

However, communities constructed during the last 12 months average 935 square feet for a one-bedroom, 945 square feet for a two-bedroom and 996 square feet for a three-bedroom domicile.

He said the trend is pushing the size of a three-bedroom apartment to the 1,800 to 2,200 square foot range. And it’s happening “nationwide,” with some variations based on location.

The move to triple-bedroom units “is a little different in Houston, which is still recovering from last year’s hurricane.” Culwell said demand in the southeast Texas city is a combination of necessity to provide homes for thousands displaced by the storm as well as personal style selection. “In Dallas and other places, it’s a lifestyle choice.”

March 12, 2018 Realty News Report Copyright 2018

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