More than 80 percent of seniors surveyed reported they plan on never selling their homes, according to findings from the American Advisor Group. However, many older people in the Delaware Valley may not fit into that mold.

The survey included 1,552 participants aged 60 to 75 years across the U.S. The American Advisor Group (AAG) found 83 percent of seniors said they felt safer at home than anywhere else, and 50 percent reported a stronger desire to stay in their homes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, 55 percent of seniors reported they have paid off their mortgages.

According to the AAG, nearly three in four seniors felt buying their home was the best financial decision they have made, and it is one many young families are trying, and struggling, to repeat in the Delaware Valley. Seven days was the average cumulative duration a house was on the market in Delaware County this year compared with 29 days in 2020 and 15 days in 2019, according to Veronica Woods, MBA, realter at the Daniel Woods Real Estate Company.

“The COVID-19 pandemic took an emotional toll on America’s seniors and created economic pressure that affected their retirement plans,” Ryan Whittington, public relations manager at the AAG, told Delaware Valley Journal. “There is evidence of this in the results, which show older Americans’ desire to live at home long term and work longer into their retirement.”

That trend was happening prior to COVID-19, according to Woods. And it may impact the investment opportunities available to young buyers.

“When seniors stay longer, they often have trouble keeping up with the routine maintenance on their homes without the support of other family members. The older housing stock in our area makes the problem worse,” Woods said. “Senior sellers often prefer to sell as-is making no repairs, which can sometimes be more difficult for a cash-strapped first-time homebuyer. These seniors often end up selling to an investor who has the resources to renovate. But sometimes these homes convert into rentals, not homes for younger buyers.”

For seniors who do choose to sell, 55+ communities are popular options in the Delaware Valley.

“In Chester County, Delaware County and Montgomery County, the demand for 55+ communities is stronger than ever,” Kit Anstey, associate broker at the Kit Anstey Real Estate Team, said. “We see many seniors on waiting lists, in many instances, for 55+ communities.”

Anstey described how many people are attracted to those communities since they allow seniors to opt-out of home maintenance like grass cutting and paying for school taxes. Instead, they can enjoy the “lifestyle” of the community that offers tennis courts, sidewalks, fishing, community gardens, and more.

“The last two years have been the hottest market I have ever seen. And prices have increased greatly,” he added.  “The survey is a little misleading because we do have some seniors that are staying in their home because of the cost of rent, and because of the cost of a downsized unit, but I do see more of them to want the lifestyle change, where it’s in a community or rental.”

However, now is the time for buyers to make an offer on a house that is available while interest rates are so low, Anstey said.

“From the senior perspective, I think it is more than they want to just stay in their homes. I think they are seeing it potentially as the most cost-effective alternative, especially if they are in the lower-middle to middle-income bracket,” Woods said. “There is also a senior housing crunch. I have spoken to seniors who could sell but worry about where they would go next.”