By: Karen Laurence Special to the Boca and Delray newspapers
Catering to the retiring population is what South Florida does best. There is no shortage of choices that range from new housing developments to more established communities to senior homes (independent to assisted living) and of course, the single family home. In fact, these buyers for new construction, are courted by the builders, who entice them through the promise of an “active lifestyle.” The renters are courted for the independent living to assisted living complexes that are being constructed at a rapid pace.
The major builders usually have at least one community that caters to the 55 year olds in each section of the state that they build in. The communities can range from 350 homes to over 1,000. The typical client is looking to buy a second or vacation home. Or just the home of their dreams. If it can be bought, within their budget, why not buy it before retirement, use it for a vacation home, and then a permanent retirement home. Having clubhouses and activities allows the active adult to stay young while retired/and or on vacation. They are kept busy with many activities ranging from Golf to Tennis, Pickleball, Canasta, Mah Jong, and of course Bingo. There is usually a pool, spa, sometimes a restaurant and many social clubs based on the interests of the population residing there. Universal design is used so that it will adapt to the needs of the resident, making it possible to remain in this home as they age. Developers are starting to use features in the home to cater to the “age at home” concept such as large tubs, front control ranges and low or zero entry thresholds that will better accommodate the aging active adult.
The Baby Boomers are the largest group of retiring adults. Most of them wish to remain in their homes if possible and not go to the independent or assisted living facilities. That is not always possible. There is a definite need for this type of living. These facilities are growing in number as some of the older population cannot make it on their own or wish to have their meals cooked for them. Having chef-prepared meals is very important as well as a 24/7 reception area. There are nurses round the clock, gym trainers, and the staff to cater to most whims. Recreational facilities as well as the pool and gyms, make them also a luxury lifestyle that is very attractive. Here they make friends instead of staying alone at home. One is usually nicer than the next, offering concierge services, spas, surround-sound theaters, and some have cafes for wine and beer. Most of these are a monthly rental, though there are some for purchase.
More homeowners are carrying mortgages into their retirement. Some do it for necessity, while others for tax reasons. The mortgage can be planned, through accelerated payments to end at a certain time to coincide with other retirement venues such as annuities. Even many wealthy persons pay off their mortgages prior to purchasing their last home which is usually bought for cash.
The 55 plus market is going strong in South Florida. You can pick and choose amenities at your home, or get cared for at a senior living facility being close to your family, as there are many to choose from in Palm Beach County. You are never far from shopping or restaurants, living on your own or taken by shuttle bus.
Karen Laurence is a sales associate with The Keyes Company. She is a Technical Real Estate Instructor, Real Estate Agent and Certified Luxury Agent. 516-524-3953.