Now that our aging population has visibly become a force to be reckoned with, many homebuilders are discovering mature adults to be a potent market. But often homebuilders tend to miss the market by focusing more on the home (which is after all what builders are selling), rather than the lifestyle (which is what drives most of the sales activity in an adult lifestyle community).
Many developers and homebuilders operate from the misconception that mature buyers prefer to live in homes that are inexpensive and focus on pricing their homes as low as possible, believing that product and price are what drives the sale. And surely there are adult lifestyle purchasers for whom price is a prime consideration. But most potential residents of an adult lifestyle community are looking for three things: adult, lifestyle and community.
Purchasers in adult communities want to be sure that the community they are considering moving to is indeed an “adult” community. As such, many such communities are age-restricted, with a hard and fast set of rules that precludes the possibility of children moving in. Of course, in jurisdictions that do not allow discrimination on the basis of age, there are other ways to “restrict” who moves in. This could range from so-called restrictive covenants registered on title of the property to rules about the permanent number of residents that may occupy any one dwelling unit (usually no more than two) under a condominium corporation or a rental agreement. Finally, the best method to maintain the integrity of an adult lifestyle community is to offer homes that are specifically designed for an older, childless demographic. The market will take care of the rest.
Some builder want to hedge their bets by offering large two storey homes in adult communities, imagining that they would be appealing to younger baby boomers that still have children at home. This fallacy results in pleasing neither the younger baby boomers that do not want to live in a community comprised largely of older people, nor the active adults seeking a childfree lifestyle.
As stated above, one of the most important considerations on the part of the purchaser in an adult community involves lifestyle. Many people in their 50s and 60s who are either retired or semi-retired have a lot of leisure time and a plethora of interests about which they are very passionate. Many are into golf in a big way and seek communities that are near golf courses. Many are into personal fitness and look for communities that provide exercise facilities. There are nearly as many interests as there are individuals seeking to live the adult lifestyle. Those communities that recognize this very important fact tend to do very well, while those that don’t, not so much.
Finally, active adults tend to be very social and seek to live in a community where they find others of similar interests and values. Many of these communities have organized activities, such as a bridge club, a golf group, round-robin tennis tournaments or group projects such as quilting or knitting. A sense of being a part of a community of like-minded individuals really is one of the most important aspects of a successful adult lifestyle community. These are the reasons why a community clubhouse is probably one of the most important amenities that any adult lifestyle community could provide. And the greater the variety of amenities and interests, the more people will be attracted to live there.