Lifestyle Communities Have Dramatically Changed
Trends in active-adult lifestyle communities have changed dramatically over the years, especially when dealing with design, amenities and, due to the current economy, buying options. Years ago, communities had far fewer choices for incoming residents, as the housing options were standardized to tailor to adults during that period.
Today, however, there are hundreds of communities across the country that cater to the 50-plus housing market alone. With a change in demographics, builders and developers alike need to change from the standard "cookie-cutter" community to one that stands out and catches the buyer's eye. And as boomers are looking to sell the family nest, 50-and-over active lifestyle communities are pitching their properties and leisure lifestyle to attract these buyers.
Since their inception, active lifestyle communities have changed the senior housing marketplace. In the past, older adults often moved south to warmer climates, purchasing a condo near the beach. These communities often had a pool and a clubhouse, but not much else in the way of amenities to support an active lifestyle.
Many prospective buyers are now drawn to communities that feature various activities to help them stay active. Across the country, communities have a range of amenities such as swimming, horseback riding trails and golf courses on their property. Many of these developments promote the lifestyle their residents can enjoy and then sell the housing.
But just as the general housing market decreased due to the current economic recession, the active-adult market has also struggled. Part of the population is hesitant to buy, as the home they have kept for more than 30 years is not worth as much as it was just a few short years ago. Many people also often realize they need to sell their current home before they are able to move to a new community.
In an attempt to offset costs and sell-out properties, builders are starting to shy away from the old way of selling condominiums to active adults. Many previously established buildings are being converted to rental units due to a lack of available funding in the current economy. Luckily, rental units are becoming more desirable among this age group. And many communities have experienced an increase in occupancy after switching to rental units.
To be sure, condo conversions are not just happening in active-adult communities, but across the board. Multifamily financing is only being entertained for rental construction. Sponsors are converting condo plans into "for rent" proposed developments.