Weekly Edition ~ October 18, 2019
"Cleanliness is next to impossible." ~Author Unknown
This Week's Community Review:
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
On the South Carolina coast, elegant Hilton Head Island is the site of Hilton Head Plantation, a large, gated community with four golf courses, a marina, a two mile beach, a wooded landscape and a wide range of prices.
Previous Weekly Reviews:
On the Southern California coast, Huntington Beach is a classic beach town and the site of Huntington Landmark, a large, gated 55+ community with town homes, condominiums, two resort-style swimming pools, tennis courts, a putting green and a park-like setting. It is also just a mile from the beach.
North of Houston in southeastern Texas, Montgomery is the setting for Bonterra at Woodforest, a 55+ single family home enclave within Woodforest, a fast growing master-planned development. Amenities include a golf course, a lagoon-shaped pool, walking paths, planned events and more.
Opelika in southeastern Alabama is the site of Springs of Mill Lakes, a cozy 55+ community with single level homes, two lakes, a zero-entry swimming pool, an adjacent wildlife preserve, a neighborhood garden and more.
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.
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.
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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