‘Boomer’ generations demand efficient housing



Recently some real estate gurus have begun to forecast a housing shortage in 2011.

We know this thought can be hard to consider, with the amount of foreclosures and short sales we are anticipating again this spring.

But because of the lack of construction starts and financing issues, it does start to make sense. It often takes three or more years from the development stage to an actual finished product — a home you can move into.

In the meantime, we have about 77 million Baby Boomers — people ages 55 and older — who make up 28 percent of the U.S. population and continue to affect the housing market as they retire.

Some top trends and desires in housing for this group are overall less maintenance inside, low- to zero-maintenance outside, universal access meaning no steps, wide hallways, etc. Energy-Star rated homes, smaller kitchens with more convenient applications and design, larger bathrooms allowing for roll-in or walk-in showers along with more safety features.

Another group, the Echo Boomers — ages 18-31 — are around 80 million strong and will have their impact on society as well. Maintenance responsibilities are also low on their list. Cluster or single-family homes with zero lot lines and located near public transportation, will be a strong trend for this group.

Successful cluster “villages” have been popping up all over the Northwest, a recent example is Matthei Place in Bellingham, and it’s a part of a Community Land Trust. It’s LEED certified, and incorporates a rain garden on site so it doesn’t burden the surrounding public storm water system.

Some of the features include a high-efficiency water and space heating system, Energy-Star lighting and a re-use of salvaged building materials, setting the bar high for this type of housing.

Green homes and communities help protect and restore healthy salmon habitat, healthy forests, adequate and clean water supplies, and fresh outdoor air. Kitsap County is the leader in the state when it comes to the Built-Green program. We are hoping this trend continues.

According to Puget Sound Energy, it’s cheaper to conserve than to create or generate energy. The list for appliances and fixtures offering rebates and incentives continues to grow each year.

Currently there is a $12 rebate with Energy-Star compact fluorescent light fixtures from our larger local home improvement stores. There may be a rebate for Energy-Star refrigerators and converting an existing incandescent fixture to a compact fluorescent one, very soon. Stay tuned.

Tracy Corriveau and Kim Poole are agents for Windermere Real Estate in Kingston.