Residential elevators aren't just for the elderly or disabled. Move-up and active adult buyers are installing them for convenience sake. "They have the money to spend, so they put an elevator in," says Jack Bixler, estimator for Hugh H. Hickman & Son Builders in Bethany Beach, Del.

Because many buyers have money in the bank, there is a lot of potential profit for builders who offer elevators as an option or an upgrade. Take a look at the numbers: 56 percent of the 2000 Builder 100 companies are building luxury homes while 49 percent are building active adult housing. Both market segments have a lot of buying power, and these buyers are willing to spend more to make their lives easier.

Move-up buyers are future-proofing their homes. Bruce Brosnahan, ex-builder, now president of DE--Atlantic Elevator in Dagsboro, Del., thinks that many buyers are concerned that they'll have problems with mobility once they get older. Brosnahan adds that younger buyers often install elevators because they're concerned about their parents' ability to move through the house.

Access Industries' LEV elevator is designed for new-home construction and is available in three standard car styles with custom options.
Courtesy Access Industries Access Industries' LEV elevator is designed for new-home construction and is available in three standard car styles with custom options.

For many active adult buyers, the future isn't too far away. When lot space is limited, and single-level floor plans aren't an option, an elevator is a simple solution, offering easy access to different floors without the hassle of climbing stairs.

Some buyers who find the convenience attractive may think the price is out of reach. But Brosnahan notes, "[An elevator] never loses its value." If buyers spend $12,000 extra for an elevator when they buy the house, they'll reap their cost, and possibly profit, when they sell.