Weekly Edition ~ January 21, 2020
"Plant carrots in January and you'll never have to eat carrots." ~Gardening Saying
This Week's Community Review:
Murrells Inlet, South Carolina
Along the northern South Carolina coast, charming Murrells Inlet is the site of Spring Forest, a comfortable, wooded 55+ community with single family homes, nearly all of which back to a shallow canal or forested area. Amenities include a nice clubhouse, a swimming pool, RV parking and a good menu of social events. HOA fees are reasonable, too.
Previous Weekly Reviews:
Green Valley is south of Tucson in southern Arizona and is the location of Casa Paloma, an established, low key 55+ town home community with reasonably priced homes and an endless array of amenities.
Davenport is in central Florida and is the setting for Providence, a gated community popular with baby boomers and empty nesters. Single family homes and attached homes in nicely manicured neighborhoods are for sale, and amenities include a golf course, a grand clubhouse, tennis courts, swimming pools and plenty of green spaces.
Outside of Los Angeles in Southern California, Friendly Valley is a settled, gated 55+ community with condos, town homes, single family homes, two golf courses, RV parking, nicely manicured grounds, a plethora of activities and more.
On Hawaii's beautiful island of Oahu, Mililani is the site of Olaloa, a mellow, gated 55+ condominium community with 21 acres of green spaces, a swimming pool, a neighborhood garden, planned activities and more.
Green Valley is south of Tucson in southern Arizona and is the location of Quail Creek, a large, gated 55+ community with Mediterranean-style single family homes, town homes, 27 holes of golf, a clubhouse, an athletic center, tennis courts, pickelball courts, RV parking, fishing lakes, pretty views and more.
Palm Harbor sits on Florida's mid-Gulf Coast and is the location of Highland Lakes, a large, settled 55+ community with single family homes, town homes, lakes, a waterfront lodge, 27 holes of golf, three clubhouses, a good menu of activities and more.
Close to Denver and the majestic Rocky Mountains, Aurora is the site of Heather Gardens, a large, peaceful 55+ community with town homes, condominiums, duplexes, a golf course, a spacious clubhouse, a swimming pool, a restaurant, green spaces, an activities director 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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