Add demographics to the marketing toolbox

Don Fenley 

The scribes at the Wall Street Journal are typically quick to grab a data factoid for a brief update on who we are, what we’re doing, and how things are going. The most current is the fact that more than 1 in 6 Americans is 65 and older. 

Here in the Tri-Cities area, we passed that benchmark some time ago. The most current census data show 111,945 Tri-Cities residents are 65 and older. That’s 21.8% of the region’s population. And back of the envelope calculations show about 30 residents a day celebrate their 65th birthday. 

This demographic time bomb affects just about everything. For Realtors®, it’s the challenge of meeting the expectations of aging homeowners who are scaling down or aging out the market to some form of senior housing. Add to that living arrangements like multi-generations housing and home sales and geographic distribution. Elders have some pretty firm ideas about where they want to live and what they want to be close to. 

The aging trend It also represents a huge transfer of wealth. If the average wealth of local Baby Boomers is anywhere close to the national estimates, we are already in the process of seeing the transfer of over $50 billion from Boomers. Much of that is houses and land holding. Almost half of all the homes in the Tri-Cities region are mortgage-free, and elders own most of them. 

And what about all those folks who are moving here? Although we don’t have precise data, the decline in local labor force participation rates suggests than many of them are retirees. The exception is Washington Co. and Johnson City. 

Local demographics have earned a spot at the top of local real estate professionals’ things to watch and understand in their marketing.  

NETAR is the voice for real estate in Northeast Tennessee. It is the largest trade association in the Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia region, representing over 1,800+ members and 100+ business partners involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries. Weekly market reports and information for both consumers and members are available on the NETAR website at