What the Hell Are They Thinking?

It wasn’t the first time I have been asked this question, so it must have been the way she asked it: “I can’t find any homes for sale that aren’t huge, or on too much land, or are out of my price range. What the hell are these builders thinking?”

Good question. As a mortgage banker who does a fair number of Reverse for Purchase loans, I have to ask the same thing.

Consider this: if you took all the 62-year-olds who have ever lived on planet earth, and added them together, that number would be less than the number of 62-year-olds alive at this very moment.

And as these boomers move into, or closer to, retirement, many want to downsize, rightsize, or relocate closer to family.

But where are the homes designed to meet the needs of this cohort?

Not five miles from my house, hundreds of new homes are going in. Their median price: $431,000. And the median square footage? 2,200, on half-acre lots. This is not what many consider a moderate retirement home.

The issue of appropriate housing is not simply one of square footage: plenty of existing smaller homes are not optimal for aging in place. Homes can be remodeled – and this is often a good option – but it can be costly for those looking to buy a move-in-ready home.

There are indeed new single-level homes being built, but much of these are in 55+ communities. Boomers self-report being less inclined to live in what often prove to be essentially ethnic monocultures. Condos can be a good option, but the monthly condo fees are a turn-off for some potential buyers.

For this article I called three, family-owned builders and asked them what they could build in the $250,000 range. First question I was asked: “Do they have land?”

No, they don’t have land. They have a home with stairs and a large yard, where they have lived for 40 years. And now they want an appropriate, safe, smaller home with a small yard, proximate to shopping, medical facilities, and amenities.

As a group, boomers are the best educated, most traveled, wealthiest group ever to hit retirement age. And, boomers have always been a force. They have always found a way to change the very framework of a question.

And now their question rightfully is, “Where are the homes that meet the specific, long-range needs of aging boomers?”

Builders? We’d like to hear from you.


Laurie MacNaughton [NMLS# 506562] · Reverse Mortgage Consultant, President’s Club · Middleburg Mortgage, a Division of Middleburg Bank · 20937 Ashburn Road, Suite 115 ·Ashburn, Virginia 20147 · 703-477-1183 Direct


Licensed in: Maryland (MD), Washington, DC, Virginia (VA), Pennsylvania (PA), Delaware (DE), North Carolina (NC), South Carolina (SC), Georgia (GA), Tennessee (TN).

Visit my Informational Blog at https://middleburgreverselady.wordpress.com/

3 thoughts on “What the Hell Are They Thinking?

  1. Cindy Quick says:

    Amen to that! Great post! Let me know if you hear back from any builders.

    I just spent a frustrating weekend with my clients talking to homebuilders in three counties. If you add in accessibility or special needs for a C5 spinal injury client, the builders REALLY look at you like you have horns. I just love the single level homes on a hilly lot with 6 steps to the front door!

    Cindy Quick

    Keller Williams Realty

    11700 Plaza America Dr | #150 | Reston, VA 20190




    Sent: Tuesday, August 13, 2013 12:30 PM To: cindy@cindyquick.com Subject: [New post] What the Hell Are They Thinking?

    middleburgreverselady posted: “It wasn’t the first time I have been asked this question, so it must have been the way she asked it: “I can’t find any homes for sale that aren’t huge, or on too much land, or are out of my price range. What the hell are these builders thinking?” Good “


  2. Sue Puleo says:

    I couldn’t agreed more. Builders seems to love that $700-800k range. No doubt there is a lot more profit as you go bigger. We need more patio homes or Not so big houses with first floor main bedrooms for less than $400k. I think part of them problem is the zoning regs. I think one day they may end up turning some of these McMansions into 4 separate condo living units. Upstairs can be live-in Housekeeping and maintenance professional rooms or they can install elevators in the 2 story foyers. What an energy waste those are. Logic does not apply where profit does. When they get to where they can sell the big ones they’ll start building smaller and not before.


  3. Reblogged this on Return of the Native (Wildflowers) and commented:
    I couldn’t agree more – I have no doubts builders make more on these huge homes, but they make no sense in a world that is rapidly moving toward a senior-dominated era. Builders: do us all a favor and get ahead of this trend.


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