The recession has made homebuyers over the age of 55 more practical when purchasing a new home and has increased interest in 55-and-over active adult communities, suggest the results of a recent study by the 50+ Housing Council of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and the MetLife Mature Market Institute.

In terms of practicality, the study found that being close to family and friends appeared to be the overwhelming factor in new home purchasing for those in the over 55 age group. Also, design and amenities offered within the active adult communities were less important in the buying process while financial concerns and cost became more prevalent. The report also found proximity to work as another important factor for homebuyers within the specified age demographic. With many active adult communities offering affordable living situations the NAHB and Mature Market Institute research predicts that interest in and expansion of 55 and over active adult communities will continue to occur over the next two years.

The study noted a projected 30% increase in new housing starts at 55 and over communities between 2010 and 2011 and projects a further 46% increase in starts between 2011 and 2012. It also found a difference between people living in age-qualified communities, where people must be 55 or older, compared to other types of 55-and-over communities. While prices in 55-and-over communities have fluctuated over the past five years, those in age-qualified communities came in strong for 2010 with a record $319,000 average price.

Those living in the age-qualified communities were more affluent than other groups, with 27% earning at least $100,000 a year. That did play a role in where buyers looked to purchase their homes, according to the report.

The NAHB and Mature Market Institute's "Housing Trends Update for the 55+ Market," takes many of its findings from the Census Bureau's 2009 American Housing Survey. Since it includes much of the Baby Boomer generation, the 55+ demographic is one of the largest age groups in the country.

"By the year 2020, as baby boomers move into this age bracket, almost 45% of all U.S. households will include someone at least 55 years old," NAHB chief economist David Crowe said.