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YOUNGER BOOMERS SHOPPING FOR BIGGER, COSTLIER HOUSES

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Here's what's likely to happen to housing in the next five years:

- Younger baby boomers (ages 33 to 44 by the year 2000) will spend a lot of money on housing, nesting in homes that feature kitchens large enough to hold a table for six and rooms that can be used for multiple purposes, especially home offices and home theaters.- Older baby boomers (ages 45 to 54 in the next five years) will buy more vacation houses, or smaller houses with a lot of amenities.

- The elderly will find houses designed for their comfort, including 36-inch high vanities, grab bars, shower seats and adjustable-height shower heads.

These predictions are from a survey by Builders magazine, which in conjunction with American Demographics also foresees a decline in demand for apartments because the number of young adults is falling.

"The average household headed by an American aged 35 to 54 spends $12,000 a year on housing or 24 percent more than the average for all U.S. households," American Demographic's Brad Ed-mond-son says.

"In the next five years, the younger boomers will spend heavily on housing as they move up and feather their nests. Older boomers will soon say goodbye to their kids. Once they do, a lot of them will shop for vacation homes and small houses with lots of amenities."

Builder magazine found that most middle-age people these days are looking for "flexibility, individuality and low maintenance in the homes they buy. Many will work from home, at least part-time. And most will hope to grow old there."

Here's what Builder sees in houses being built now and over the next five years:

- Home offices and home theaters will be "completely mainstream" by 2000. Already one-third of adults either bring home work or work at home full-time. As a result, 75 percent of builders include home offices in their plans

and one-third offer home theaters. Those numbers are expected to grow.

- Houses will have more flexible floor plans to accommodate the many different kinds of people buying houses - married couples, singles, single parents, divorced people, live-in grandparents oradult children.

- Housing will be more open and informal with nostalgic features such as front porches, butler's pantries, built-in bookcases, window seats and other nooks and crannies.

- Because families today eat most of their meals in the kitchen, many houses will have room for a large table that can accommodate both family and friends. Separate cooktops, walk-in pantries and separate vegetable sinks are other trends.

- Houses will have more security devices. Already, 63 percent of the builders surveyed pre-wire some of their houses and 25 percent install whole-house systems. "Use of all home automation technologies will grow by 2000," Builders says.

- Homebuyers are getting more sophisticated and demanding more options. As a result, two-thirds of homebuilders say they plan to have a design center by 2000 where consumers can see for themselves what's available. Options and upgrades will make up a greater portion of a house's sales price.

- If homebuyers don't want to go to the design center, they can tour houses via cyberspace. Builders say they are increasingly offering computerized selection systems where buyers can see options on screen. And nearly 60 percent are planning to offer virtual home models, where shoppers can walk through a house via computer screen.