you're reading...

Cornelius News

Some Baby Boomers staying put, fixing their homes


By Erica Batten. With aging parents, visiting grandchildren, boomerang children, and second-act careers, many recent retirees choose remodeling projects that offer the best of both worlds: upgrades that allow them to stay in their old homes while increasing market value should they decide to sell.

“The year 2015 closed with above-average price appreciation, increased new construction activity, and a 9 percent increase in total sales in most of our markets,” said Allen Tate CEO Pat Riley.  “What has not improved, but is helping property values increase, is lack of inventory. Builder volume still lags and resale listings out there are stingy.”

Riley cites three factors deterring Baby Boomers from listing their homes: they are holding out to buy until they find new homes that fit all their criteria, they are healthier and want to stay in their homes and provide a space for extended family, or they know their homes need updates before being listed.

When Catherine Taylor, an Allen Tate agent in Cornelius, started selling real estate in the Lake Norman area 10 years ago, the area’s homes were relatively new.

“They’re after transforming that home, which has a good lot and good bones, to accommodate their needs”

— Ken Wrench

Many homes built 20 or more years ago, when Baby Boomers were raising families and launching careers, have outdated features and floor plans, Taylor said. Closed-off kitchens and formal living rooms as well as some color schemes haven’t stood the test of time.

Homeowners in the Baby Boom generation are staying put, but they’re updating, big-time.

Formal living rooms can be reinvented as home offices with the addition of French doors. Hardwood floors, in a variety of new finishes and styles, can replace carpeting and vinyl.  In some cases, walls are removed to create a more open floor plan and facilitate traffic flow.

The National Association of Home Builders says Baby Boomers are putting in wider doorways, first-floor bedrooms and baths and brighter lighting.  Flex-space renovations allow for rooms to be used as home offices, theater rooms, guest bedrooms or crafting spaces.

The NAHB also says that this generation is choosing low-maintenance exteriors and landscaping, also possible through renovations.

Lake Norman’s luxury home market looks much different than it did five to seven years ago, said Ken Wrench of Cornelius-based Augusta Homes. Then, hundreds of homes were available.

“Now there’s pent-up demand, but no land to build on,” Wrench said.

Wrench said he and his partner, Ron Talbott, have recently completed at least three major renovations above $1 million.

He’s seen the trend toward multigenerational living spaces, too.  A recent project involved remodeling a home to create two 5,000 square-foot living areas, each essentially a single-family home, attached by a common room. The clients were family with three children plus one set of grandparents.

“They’re after transforming that home, which has a good lot and good bones, to accommodate their needs,” Wrench said.