amenities for boomers

Renter populations have skewed younger for years. This makes sense considering many young Millennials and Generation Zers are renting for the flexibility it allows them to save up for their first home purchase. However, the fastest-growing renter demographic is surprising: Baby Boomers and smart home amenities can attract this latest renter batch.

With the real estate market nearing the peak set just prior to the Great Recession, Boomers are cashing in and selling their homes.

And instead of buying new ones with those profits, many are opting to rent — either to wait out an inflated market or to take advantage of flexibility and amenities that they might not be able to afford if they wanted to purchase outright at current prices.

Amenities the Aging Population Want

Many of the amenities Boomers want the most are built around the concept of “aging in place,” which is the practice of modifying a home to allow older occupants to inhabit it comfortably for as long as possible.

With nursing homes and professional care settings well outside the price range of most Boomers, a comfortable rental is often the best and most affordable option.

According to AssistedLiving.org, aging-in-place modifications include wheelchair-friendly wide doorways, ramps instead of stairs at entry and exit points, details such as safety bars and strips to prevent falls in showers and bathtubs, and flooring modifications to prevent trips and slips. Unfortunately, all of these changes can be expensive to make to a home, prompting many Boomers to look for them in a rental.

Taking Advantage of Smart Tech — Amenities Can Attract

One other set of features is almost guaranteed to grow in popularity among Boomer renters, and you might not think about it when considering accessibility or aging in place.

It’s common to think of digital natives (Gen Z in particular) as the biggest consumers of smart home tech. Still, the small advantages of smart home devices can turn into even bigger selling points for aging populations.

Smart home devices can offer just as much comfort, convenience, and safety for older occupants as they do younger ones — if not more.

In particular, smart home tech can provide these three advantages for aging residents and those who look after them:

1. Awareness.

Many seniors are more than capable of living alone, but a simple fall or accident can turn into a life-threatening event when no one is there to help. Cameras in common areas (such as a living room) help caretakers and loved ones check-in and make sure seniors are up and moving. In addition, many options allow for two-way communication if a resident isn’t picking up a phone or responding to messages.

These devices could very well save a life in an emergency situation, and they’re even more important for residents who have dementia and are prone to wandering away from the safety and comfort of home. Monitored life safety services — such as smoke and carbon dioxide alarms and security systems — also add an extra layer of protection for older residents.

2. Savings.

Many seniors are on a fixed income, so saving money on utilities means a lot. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration data, U.S. households spent an average of $115.49 per month on energy in 2019. Heating and cooling amount to nearly half of that expense, which is why smart thermostats represent a good investment.

These energy-saving devices can reduce a home’s heating bill by up to 12% and its cooling costs by as much as 15%. In addition, many of the smart devices nowadays adapt to a resident’s schedule over time and adjust the temperature settings while the home is vacant. This meaning the savings happen automatically without impacting anyone’s comfort level.

3. Convenience.

Saving money is nice, but convenience might be even more important for older residents who aren’t as mobile as they used to be. “Curb-to-couch” technology such as keyless entry can allow Boomers to let in deliveries or guests without having to walk to the front door. Likewise, voice assistants let them adjust the thermostat, turn on the TV, and play their favorite music without having to get up.

In addition, wearable devices bring the convenience of voice assistants on residents’ wrists and help monitor important vitals such as blood, oxygen, and pulse. These technologies might not seem groundbreaking, but they can have a big impact on a senior’s quality of life when used together.

Easy Essentials Boomers Ask For

Knowing that Boomers are interested in the safety, savings, and convenience of smart home technology, property owners should take specific steps to appeal to this growing demographic of renters. The Boomers want easy devices they don’t have to fuss with — and neither will you. Boomers want “set and go” tech and you can provide it.

The devices provide the baseline smart home technology that the property owner should install before a resident moves in. In addition, they provide a base set of aging-in-place services and allow residents to enhance their experience with add-on devices such as interior cameras, wearables, and voice assistants.

Include these “asked for amenities” with your smart home suite of amenity offerings to attract your very own boomers — and the older millennials who demand these extras too.

· Thermostats: Save money, keep residents comfortable, and stay ahead of maintenance needs to avoid more significant costs.

· Leak sensors: Monitor common leak areas such as toilets and dishwashers to avoid major damage or mold growth that can threaten health.

· Water flow valves: Make sure low-pressure leaks don’t go unnoticed, lead to exorbitant water bills, and cause residents to be displaced.

· Touch screen control: Provides reliable connectivity via cellular, improves control with an easy-to-use touchscreen, and enables optional services like monitored life safety.

· Curb-to-couch keyless access: Lets residents easily grant access to service providers and guests, and a complete access history provides transparency and security.

Conclusion

A baseline investment in smart home tech can be a savvy strategy for property managers to attract as many potential renters as possible.

Pick a smart property platform that has the products and service providers you need to allow a unit to flex and appeal to all kinds of different residents.

As the number of Boomer renters grows, smart technology choices can be the difference between a happily-occupied property and a frustrating vacancy for owners.

Image Credit: marcus aurelius; pexels; thank you!

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