Some day you can be 55 and up

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I have been driving around a lot lately, looking at many of the newer communities in my northern suburbs. And I have one question: is everyone turning 55 next year?

Driving down Ga. 92 from Woodstock to Roswell you will probably see four new neighborhoods, all for the 55-and- up crowd. Drive around a lot of other places and you’ll see the same. Clearly, there is a market for this. Banks are too strict these days to allow the frivolous building that went on pre-2008.

My curiosity has been growing as I drive by these communities, initially just because this is a significant market trend that I, as a real estate professional, should take note and be aware of. But lately, it’s more because I’m not allowed in!

I am a young 42 years old and naturally, because I can’t buy in those communities, I’m curious to know what exactly is so great about them in the first place. Over the last several months I’ve read up on them and have talked to several friends who are either living in one of them, or are planning to move there.

I think the first attraction is living with folks who have a common lifestyle. My neighborhood is a mix of young families and empty-nesters. It was built in the late 1980s and is in a desirable location. So while we have many first generation homeowners, we also have many “young” families like mine who moved there in the last 10 years.

While we all get along for the most part, HOA meetings can get contentious as us young families want to spend money to improve all of the things that our children like to play on – the pool, the pool-house, the playground. The others don’t.

While we think our children are so cute and are good for the older folks in the neighborhood, I’m not sure they feel exactly the same way. Hence – the 55+, active adult communities.

What I’ve learned is that each community is different, but there are similar characteristics. They all seem to either be one-story, or have the master on the main. The yards are relatively small and easy to maintain. And they make an attempt to stress community activities. I think this is where each community can vary quite a bit.

Some communities actually have activities directors on site to coordinate card games, pot luck dinners, aerobics and other things.

I was talking with my good friend Donnie Restler last week. When he retired 11 years ago, he became a master gardener. And he was excited about moving to a community in Forsyth County that had a community garden. We’ve all talked for years about his amazing tomatoes. They may not know it, but they will be excited to have him.

One thing that has caught some new homeowners off guard with these communities is the age difference. I talked to another couple who are 60 and recently moved into an active adult community where most everyone is over 80.

To them, that was a huge difference. From what I hear, the newer communities are going to have homeowners closer to the 55+ age while the older ones will have homeowners who have been there for a while. Makes sense.

So the amenities will run the gamut.

I read about one community in North Carolina that actually had a playground on it. It is an adult playground with various pull-up bars, punching bags, hand-ladders and other things. They are apparently popular in China and Japan.

For the under-$400,000 price range, we are incredibly low on inventory. And most of these active adult communities have houses under $400,000. So these communities are doing very well. Maybe 13 more years and I’ll be able to buy one.


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