Homebuyers are giving stairs the cold shoulder

single-storey homes

After more than three decades of declining popularity, single-storey homes are making a comeback, thanks mostly to middle-aged homebuyers and their plans to “age in place”.

This trend is being influenced by the fact that although interest rates are exceptionally low at the moment, credit criteria are tough and transaction costs are high, causing many middle-aged owners and buyers to rethink their plans to buy a different property on retirement.

According to a survey by the US National Association of Homebuilders and the Metlife Mature Market Institute, some 90% of homeowners aged 45 and over now plan to stay put in their existing homes when they retire – and 45% of households will include someone aged at least 55 by the year 2020.

“And when you think about it, the biggest physical obstacle most of these people would probably face is climbing stairs,” says Stephen Melman, director of economic services for the NAHB.

Quoted on MarketWatch.com recently, he said: “As people are living longer, baby-boomers who have seen their own parents age in place often realise the benefits of single-floor living before they actually need them. But the one-storey homes being built today are not your grandfather’s ‘ranch house’. They are open and bright, and likely to contain many modern amenities.”

Nevertheless, the demand for older ranch and bungalow-style homes is also rising as younger families with small children rediscover the convenience and relative safety of living on one level – and first-timers start to think more in terms of “forever homes” than a series of “move-up” homes .

Denise Dersin, editor-in-chief of Builder magazine, says the renewed popularity of single-storey homes also has to do with a growing preference among homebuyers for established, “walkable” areas where the number of newer homes is limited, as well as the construction industry’s desire to provide more affordable homes for new buyers.

And, she notes, it is becoming more common for two-storey homes to be built with the master bedroom suite on the ground floor, because this creates a more flexible floor plan for two- or even three-generation households – “a way to accommodate those family members who can’t trudge up the stairs any more, or perhaps to create a separate living area for adult children or visiting grandchildren”.

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