Sought-After Home Features for 55+ Adults Vary by Geography

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Single-level living, a modern kitchen and outdoor deck/patio space are the three most popular home features among 55+ adults, according to a new National Housing Survey conducted by

What is most important to 55+ homeowners varies based on geography, according to a new National Housing Survey from

More than 1,000 people age 55 or older were asked “what features are most important to you to have at your home?”

Not surprisingly, a single-level home was called out as being most important by nearly 40 percent of respondents nationwide—from 36.73 percent in the Northeast to 42.48 percent in the West.

Having the master bedroom on the main floor is also popular with 55+ adults, yet much less so than having a single-story home. A first-floor master suite is preferred by only 21.28 percent of those surveyed. In the West, about 14 percent of respondents named it as important while in the South, more than 26 percent did.

“A preference for single-level living is expected with 55+ homeowners as it is more convenient and less taxing to not have to climb stairs as they age,” said Danny Goodman, chief operating officer for is the most comprehensive online tool for active adult home shopping and buying. The website showcases real estate, facts, descriptions, and photos of 55-plus neighborhoods nationwide.

The second most desired feature according to the report is a modern kitchen, defined as having granite countertops and new, stainless steel appliances. Approximately one-third of those surveyed said a modern kitchen was important with nearly 41 percent of Northeasterners seeking that feature. According to Goodman, this indicates a strong interest in moving to a newly built or recently renovated home.

“Many retirees are moving from homes they have lived in for a long time—often where they raised their families for the last 20 years or more,” he said. “Now that they have a chance to purchase a new home, they want all the bells and whistles they’ve been craving but never had.”

Following a close third as a sought-after home feature, with just under 33 percent, is an outdoor patio or deck. Those living out West, specifically in Mountain states, preferred this feature more than any other part of the country.

“It seems fitting that 55+ adults in the Mountain region have a great desire for outdoor living spaces,” said Goodman. “Many people who live in these states gravitate toward outside recreational activities and truly enjoy spending time out-of-doors, even when at home.”

Although open concept floor plans are common in new construction, only about 21 percent of respondents said it was important to them. Active adults living in the Western part of the country preferred an open floor plan more than any other region.

More than 28 percent of New Englanders value additional storage space in their homes but only about 17 percent of Southerners felt the same. Overall, nearly 21 percent of people thought it was a key design element.

A home office was listed as important by 14.19 percent of people nationwide, topping out at 15.79 percent in the Western part of the country.

One feature with a big discrepancy in popularity among regions is a basement. Only about 3 percent of the people in the South indicated it was important but more than 23 percent in the Midwest did. This wide swing in preferences most likely is based on what people have become accustomed to, explained Goodman.

“If someone grew up with a basement—many homes in the Midwest have them—then they are more inclined to want one as they age. Not having a basement would seem unusual,” he said. “On the other hand, someone who has never lived in a home with a basement, which is common in southern climates, may not feel the need to have one now.”

Another preference that deviates by geography is a fenced backyard. Only about 16 percent of 55+ adults in the Northeast desire this, while more than twice as many—36.84 percent—in the West would like to have a fenced yard.

Surprisingly, northerners are not much more likely to want an indoor fireplace than their southern counterparts. In all, only 10.74 percent of those surveyed express it as important and statistics were fairly consistent across regions, ranging from 9.7 to 12.28 percent.

One of the least important home features according to the National Housing Survey is a tub in the master bath. Less than 8 percent of people in the Midwest and Northeast want a tub and just over 11 percent of those in the West do. A walk-in shower, on the other hand, is preferred by approximately 22 to 35 percent of active adults.’s National Housing Survey was conducted in Q2 2016. Understanding the needs and preferences of 55+ homeowners is nothing new for the team, who have decades of experience and have compiled a wealth of data about active adult communities through the website. is a national online resource where people can find, research and compare 55-plus and active adult communities across the country. In addition to listing homes for sale, connects interested homebuyers with handpicked partner agents who are local real estate experts to complete the purchase.

For more information on 55+ housing trends at the state, region and national level, contact Danny Goodman at (773) 278-5500.

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Debbie Szwast
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