Weekly Edition ~ September 20, 2019
"How many cares one loses when one decides not to be something but to be someone." ~"Coco" Chanel
This Week's Community Review:
Clearwater is on the central Gulf Coast and is the site of Greenbriar, an established, modest 55+ condominium community with a clubhouse, a heated swimming pool, planned activities and tidy, tropical landscaping.
Previous Weekly Reviews:
Tucson is in southern Arizona and the site of La Cholla Hills, an attractive, well-established 55+ community with single story, single family homes and town homes, two swimming pools, a nearby golf course and a bounty of events and activities.
In a north central Florida lakeside town not far from Orlando, gated, friendly 55+ Plantation at Leesburg has a variety of home styles, three clubhouses, two golf courses, lakes, a restaurant, lifestyle directors and more.
In pastoral south central Pennsylvania, Carlisle is the site location of Creek View, a quiet, family-owned, 55+ manufactured home community with properties that look site-built. Amenities include a cozy clubhouse, a pond, walking trails, RV parking and more.
On Florida's Gulf Coast, South Pasadena is the site of Bay Island, a casual, settled 55+ waterfront community with condominiums, a marina, swimming pools, a fishing dock, tennis courts and pretty views.
Outside of San Diego in sunny Southern California, Murrieta is the site of The Colony, a large, settled 55+ community with Mediterranean-style homes, an 18 hole golf course, a nice clubhouse, walking trails, lakes, a good menu of events, groups and activities and more.
Not too far from romantic Charleston, Summerville is the site of Cresswind, a lovely 55+ single family home community with a clubhouse, swimming pools and tennis courts, not to mention a restored farmhouse, an onsite YMCA, a coffeehouse, fishing ponds, live oaks and more.
Mesa is outside of Phoenix in southern Arizona and is the location of Fountain of the Sun, a large, established, gated 55+ community with single family homes, townhomes/condominiums and manufactured homes. Amenities include an 18 hole golf course, a clubhouse, a swimming pool, shuffleboard courts, a library, a restaurant, a coffeehouse and a wide variety of activities, groups and clubs.
Millville is just four miles from Bethany Beach in southeastern Delaware and is the location of Bishop's Landing, a single family home and attached home community marketed to families, empty nesters and retirees. Amenities include a nice clubhouse, an Olympic-size pool, a fishing pier, a dog park and more.
Age Restricted Communities 101
The kids have moved out. They have launched themselves into a career, parenthood, home ownership. You decide it's time to downsize. But how? Into where? You're still healthy, active. You're not ready for a continuing care community. The decision can be daunting.
A 55-plus or active-adult community is one option. The only legal exception to non-discriminatory fair housing laws, an age restricted community is run by a homeowners association that offers some exterior maintenance and amenities to its members. Amenities could include a private golf course, sizable clubhouse, 24/7 security, or transportation to and from local hospitals or shopping malls. Housing in such a community can range from modest condominiums to attached homes to luxury estates.
How will you decide? Are you ready for the time it might take? Demand for homes in active-adult communities is on the rise. You'll be competing against other baby boomers, maybe even some Gen-Xers. Start your research a few years before your retirement date. Find a real estate agent that specializes in master-planned communities or senior home purchases. The National Association of Realtors does offer training and certification for senior specialists.
Look at the location. Does it have the right weather? Is it close enough to family? Is downtown too far away or not far away enough? Will you have acclimate? What are local taxes like? Check out the neighbors. Are these the people you want to age with? Make sure you know what services might be available for you as you age. Is your 55-plus community near a hospital, a grocery store, a bank, a pharmacy? Can they get you to the hospital and grocery store once you decide you no longer want to drive? Maybe the community offers grocery delivery? Are there senior fitness classes, personal trainers?
Be sure you understand what amenities you are paying for. Some communities require that you buy an equity membership or hide the cost of that lap pool and golf course in high HOA fees. Inspect your prospective community's activity calendar. Does it have the right mix of leisure and lecture? Are there too many card tournaments and not enough day trips? Do you hate golf, need 39 shuffleboard courts? Is there an activities director?
Understand your prospective HOA. How long is the list of restrictions? Do the board politics give you pause? Will they force you through a long approval process? Will they ask you for bank records and references?
Investigate the community's financials. Are they solvent? How well did they weather the crisis when the housing bubble burst in 2008? And what about the builder? How long have they worked for seniors? Do they understand aging in place? Do they understand the need for zero step entries, wider hallways? Or have they just gotten into the game? Del Webb is credited with inventing the age-restricted community. Keep your eye on what they're building. Other companies to watch are Lennar, Shea, and Taylor Morrison.
Remember, you're not just buying a new house. You're buying a new way of life.
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