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The Very Next Boom You Hear …

September 22, 2005 By:
Andrew Lasner, JE Feature
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There seems to be a lot more to the success of active adult communities throughout the nation than just some convenient rounds of golf. There's probably more to it than the appeal of mostly single-level floor plans geared especially to "mature" adults.

The fact is that many people selling their 30-year-old family homes and moving into these resort-style communities may want a socially and physically active life - one they don't necessarily have to work so hard at to achieve.

As we get older, the homes we bought when we first married and raised our families have become more labor-intensive, and maybe a burden given our diminishing physical abilities. The popularity of age-restricted communities is beginning to grow as baby-boomers are expected to fuel a growing demand for retirement housing.

The number of people age 65 or older is expected to shoot up 137 percent, to 82 million in 2050, according to U.S. Census figures.

Builders expect the baby-boomer generation and seniors to flock to everything from age-restricted communities to smaller patio homes in traditional neighborhoods. But not everybody is going to want to live in an age-restricted community. Some people will feel younger around younger people.

Others may be attracted to the new "niche" in real estate - active adult communities. Many of these new, planned arenas offer golf clubs, club houses, pools, and fitness and game rooms.

According to results from a study by the National Association of Home Builders and Countrywide Home Loans, active adult home-buyers want maintenance-free options like yard or grounds service, as well as exterior home repairs. The study results indicate that while baby-boomers and seniors may plan on having more leisure time in their golden years, they don't exactly intend to spend it doing chores.

Three out of four builders surveyed indicated that the quest for a maintenance-free lifestyle was their customer's primary motivation for relocating to a seniors' community, followed by the desire to be closer to family.

Some of the findings were:

• Walking and jogging trails are the most desirable amenity, with roughly half of all active adults and older seniors (52 percent) saying that the presence of trails would seriously influence the home-buying decision. This number increases substantially for those with annual incomes greater than $75,000 (65 percent).

• Outdoor spaces, especially park areas, could influence the buying decision of about half of the active adult and older senior households (51 percent).

• Public transportation is a highly attractive amenity. Overall, some 46 percent of all 55-plus buyers would be influenced to move to a community based on the availability of public transportation.

• Open spaces are important to all seniors, more so than for other age groups. Around 46 percent would be influenced to move to a community by the presence of nearby open spaces.

• Lakes are very appealing to active adults, especially younger ones. In all, about 44 percent mentioned lakes as key factors.

• Outdoor pools are also important, though their appeal decreases with a resident's age.

• Security guards at the gate were mentioned by 26 percent of respondents. However, only 16 percent considered a card-operated gate as a key factor.

• Clubhouses were mentioned by 24 percent of respondents. That number rises dramatically for 55-plus buyers with incomes greater than $150,000.

• An exercise room was a factor for 21 percent of those asked.

• The most popular feature and amenity was central heat and air-conditioning.

Convenience A Plus
• Builders recognize that customers want homes that promote safety and a sense of security. Around 69 percent of builders included strategically placed streetlights, followed by a home security system (52 percent).

• Convenience is a major plus for senior buyers. Three out of four builders built seniors communities close to shopping centers, and two-thirds built homes close to places of worship, hospitals or doctor's offices.

Baby-boomers and seniors in transition are advised to be in touch with their current as well as their future needs. Home safety assessments will serve to enhance your comfort and increase the likelihood of independent living. u

Andrew Lasner is a realtor and a senior real estate specialist at Keller Williams Preferred in Newtown. He can be reached at 215-860-0800 or go to: Andrew1@comcast. net. Future columns will be dedicated to questions from readers.

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