Saturday, November 1, 2014

Large Retirement Communities Set New Trends



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.

Smarter Marketing Plans Help Make Developers More Successful


Marketing techniques by developers are new and more creative and encourage buyers to become involved in the planning stages.          


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:

Healthful Offerings:

  • 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.
Practical: 
  • 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.
 Upscale living but comfortable:
Lake Pool
  • 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
Gavilan at Rancho Mission Viejo - 4 neighborhoods by Shea Homes, Del Webb and Standard Pacific.  They have already nearly sold out.  They describe themselves as relaxing, low maintenance. Yet there are activities galore.
South Orange County, California





Photo by Artists Colony
Burbank Senior Artists Colony  - 10747 Magnolia Blvd No. Hollywood, Ca.  - The original Arts Colony by Meta Housing.  There are now 3 Arts Colonies.  They researched aging and found that seniors wanted to be with like-minded and active in the arts.  This is an arts focused community with on-site theater, clubhouse, art studios.  Lifelong learning, writing classes, poetry workshops, computer, performance choir, fitness and wellness.  Programs provided by EngAGE.  



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
Del Webb Lakewood Ranch - Florida - Proposed 1300+ homes (verify) - late 2015






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.


Older communities: 

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
Leisure World has all of the signs in the list above.  Recently they remodeled one of their clubhouses with a more updated look.  They are constantly improving their landscaping, restaurants, amenity offerings and more.

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.

 One of the most active Del Webb communities - over 100 clubs and activities - 14,000 residents - All Sun City communities are large and there are several throughout the U.S.  They started about the same time as the Leisure World communities.   Del Webb was another pioneer of large communities.   The original Sun City is in Phoenix Arizona.
  • The Villages - 1000 Lake Sumpter Landing, The Villages, Florida
By Village of Lake Sumpter - This is a popular and well known large community brand in Florida that is continuing expansion and new homes.

Smaller Builders

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.

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