With the first of the Baby Boomers cashing Social Security checks, it's not surprising that everyone from real estate investors to financial analysts are sitting up and taking notice. The sheer numbers that make up this generation – over 78 million according to the U.S. Census Bureau – have made Boomers de facto trendsetters. "Baby Boomers have more accumulated wealth than any previous generation, and they're positioned downstream from a river of assets that they will inherit from their parents," says Leon D. Meekcoms, President of Parkbridge Capital Group, Inc. (www.parkbridgecapital.com), a privately held real estate investment, acquisition, and brokerage firm. "Their financial position and increased longevity are translating into decisive new trends in the housing industry."
According to Meekcoms, whose career in real estate sales, acquisition, and development has spanned more than 25 years, the most notable recreational trend among the Boomer demographic are those who termed "splitters," or people who have two residences. "Dual season residency is skyrocketing, with people choosing to go north from the spring to the fall and spend other half of the year in the south," he says. In addition, close to a half million people live and travel full-time in their RVs, with millions more dividing their time between RV travel and a home base, often in a manufactured home community or RV resort.
In contrast to traditional "snowbirds," this generation tends to be more active and, like their predecessors, is quite cost-conscious. They have a reasonable expectation of living a quarter of century and longer in retirement or semi-retirement, and don't want to outlive their money. "While Boomers are affluent, they are smart about how they're going to invest and spend, and will plan for the future," says Meekcoms.
This is one reason why Parkbridge Capital Group, Inc. has focused on acquiring a portfolio of manufactured home communities and recreational vehicle resorts. "People want the benefits associated with a mobile lifestyle without the high overhead. In buying and upgrading these properties to maximize investor return, we also provide tenants with a splendid environment. In short, everyone wins," he says.
Parkbridge Capital is a prime example of a company that has positioned itself to take advantage of the Baby Boomer wave. There aren't a massive number of larger, quality manufactured home communities and RV resorts, so the market forces of supply and demand are almost certain to force prices up in coming years. In the meantime, the company's properties also appeal to the growing number of Americans who want to vacation closer to home or stay in the U.S. "Because of gas prices, people are beginning to shy away from long trips, and prefer the amenities of resorts that are within driving distance of their homes, or locales where they can stay and recreate for the season," says Meekcoms.
As a Baby Boomer himself, he has an inside track on this trendsetting generation. "On the whole, we have more time, more money, and better long-term health prospects than previous generations. We want to enjoy a flexible lifestyle at a cost that isn't extravagant," he says. "The types of properties that our company acquires and owns with our partners are a perfect fit for mobile, cost-conscious Boomers who want the best of all worlds."