New 2014 communities seem to be getting larger, setting new trends, and older ones have been expanding.
Buyers have held off for so long during the economic depression. But in the last 2 years buyers have started doing what they do best: buying! And happy builders have responded.
Large builders have large tracts of land on hold and now seems to be the right time for them. Seniors are retiring at the rate of 10,000 per day. New larger communities are designed to meet the demand.
Recently some large communities are selling out as fast as they go up. Why is that.
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New Trends at Large and Small Retirement Communities
Times and markets change. Since the early 60's we've seen retirement communities come on the scene with the following characteristics: amenity-rich, large, gated, social. While these classic features remain, there is a new fresh look emerging.
Both small and large communities need to go with the new trends to keep inspiring new baby boomers. What are they:
- More social amenities and activities with an on-site Activities Director - Buyers are also becoming more particular. They don't want to move unless a community can offer them something unique or spectacular.
- Extending longevity with Education and Recreational activities such as Lifelong Learning and EngAGE programs.
- More socially conscious activities and volunteering opportunities.
- Gated entrances or an organization that encourages looking out for each other.
- Everything you need on the campus or within walking distance, i.e. grocery stores.
- Communities near transportation to employment centers and/or shuttle bus.
- Traditional comforts such as restaurants serving classic food, fishing lakes, Bingo.
- More exotic educational and recreational pursuits -- more yoga, tai chi, spas and massage. Discussion groups on esoteric topics. Trendy clubs like cooking classes.
- I would see things trending in the direction of clean design with upscale modern finishes without being too extravagant. Upgrade if you are appearing out-of-touch or old fashioned.
Large Communities set the new trends best:Large communities have the ability to offer some of the following:
1) Community calendar
2) On-site Social Director
3) Newspaper that has club columns
4) Website that lists activities
5) Medium to large sized - size is not a determining factor but the #of activities is
6) Phone recording updating activities for the day
7) TV channel
Smaller communities that update and offer these same amenities will compete better. Many smaller builders are still struggling. It is difficult for them to compete unless they offer something unique and appealing.
New over 55 communities--all large and filled with amenities, and selling quickly from large builders:
|Photo by Standard Pacific featuring casita|
South Orange County, California
|Photo by Artists Colony|
Jubilee at Los Lunas - 640 Promenade Trail SW, Los Lunas 505-866-1777, New Mexico - 20 minutes to Albuquerque - priced from upper $100's. Planned 2000 homes
Upcoming large communities:
|Photo by Del Webb|
Trilogy Lake Norman - Denver, NC, North of Charlotte, North Carolina - 600+ acres - Resort amenities
|Trilogy Lake Frederick|
Trilogy Lake Frederick - Shenandoah Valley, Virginia - Proposed 900+ homes for 55+ - Just opened in 2014
Victory at Verrado - Buckeye, Arizona - An over 55 district in the all ages Verrado Community - 4 builders - Planned 3500 homes on 1200 acres - sign up now for grand opening.
Encore at Eastmark - Mesa, Arizona - AV Homes - 55 community Planned 950 homes in the all ages Eastmark master community on 3500 acres. Coming early 2015.
This just in: Parkland Royale - Parkland, Fl - The Sun Sentinel of Broward just reported (Dec 2014) over 700 single homes planned for Broward County in Parkland near Coral Springs, Florida - There is no timeframe released but prices may start in $500,000's. We have to wait for more information to come out. K Hovnanian Builders development.
These can compete well if they are on track with these same new trends. Some of those are:
Some older communities have had time to solidify and run a good ship of activities and they are ahead of the competition because they are updating.
- Leisure World of Maryland
They consistently have younger people moving in to energize all the activities, but because it started in the 60's, there are mature and elderly as well. Age doesn't matter. They have over 80 clubs and organizations.
Invented by Ross Cortese to be amenity-rich. What an idea! A real pioneer. There are several Leisure World communities throughout the U.S. See our review of Leisure World Md.
- Sun City Hilton Head, Bluffton, South Carolina
- The Villages - 1000 Lake Sumpter Landing, The Villages, Florida
Smaller builders and communities will always be represented, especially if they offer these additional features to the ones above:
- Upscale and custom design features, i.e. solar, unique materials, custom floor plans etc.
- Highly competitive pricing or Upend pricing due to uniqueness, superior location or amenities, gated and social director.
- Personal Service
- Appealing to a niche buyer with unique features
You, the baby boomer buyer, want more and you can find the activity you want at a large community. The future looks bright for retirement communities.
Authority: Carol Fena, a former Realtor, has been writing about and observing retirement communities of all kinds for 8 years for her website Bestguide-RetirementCommunities.com. She has a good perspective on their future because she has seen where they have been and what they are like today. Top Photo by GL Homes Valencia Cove.