Tips & Picks

Choosing the Best Retirement Communities When Buying or Building a New Home

Choosing the Best Retirement Communities When Buying or Building a New Home

The decision to buy or build a new home is a momentous occasion at any phase in life, but the decision to buy or build a new home and choose the best retirement living community can be especially intimidating. While some of the best retirement communities are springing up everywhere in the United States, Florida remains one of the most popular choices for retirement because of its favorable climate and variety of active senior lifestyle communities. When considering buying or building a home in a retirement living community, the first and most obvious things buyers taken into consideration are qualities of the community itself. However, there are many additional factors that should be considered in making a decision about buying or building a home where you will spend the rest of your life. Knowing what to look for as a potential homeowner in a retirement living community can help buyers make better decisions for their golden years.
Several things to consider when trying to choose the best retirement communities for your new home:

The community’s qualities – Consider the positive things the retirement living community has to offer. Does the community promote an active senior lifestyle? Offer a variety of activities? What types of amenities are available to its residents? Is the surrounding landscape pleasing? Consider the location and nearby attractions. What is it like getting around the area? What is traffic like? Another thing to consider is the community’s demographics—what types of people live there? The best retirement communities are places where one would feel comfortable and be happy living day in and day out.



The builder’s reputation – Another important thing to determine before buying a home in a retirement living community is whether or not the builder is solely responsible for the homes or if they contract work out to other builders - the best retirement communities use builders who do the work themselves. Some retirement communities will actually hire several contractors, which can affect the quality of work – and may even put buyers in a situation where an outside contractor is responsible for their home warranty. Another important thing for a buyer to consider is the contractor’s stability. Will they be around in two years?

Taxes and fees – Find out if the community is truly resident-owned - many retirement living community home buyers are often surprised to find that they are paying additional hundreds or thousands of dollars in annual living costs. These additional costs can come from the Community Development District (CDD), which places taxes on homes in the community in order to cover the costs of public roadways, utilities and other improvements. Other fees may include leases paid to the developer or a third party for recreational facilities, golf courses and other amenities. The best retirement communities will disclose any additional costs you might have prior to closing. Some builders will put these costs on residents’ shoulders, failing to inform the buyer of this in the initial purchase price or closing costs. Often times, buyers are not even aware of these additional costs until they receive their first tax bill or association fee statement. A builder may claim that placing the responsibility of paying these taxes or fees on the resident allows them to build homes at a lower initial cost. Prevent surprise taxes and fees by asking your retirement living community developer to tell you about any additional CDD taxes, leases or other fees upfront.

Closing costs – Buyers often get caught up in the excitement of a home purchase and don’t think to ask how much it will actually cost to get into the new house. Buyers should be wary of additional closing costs as many developers tack thousands of extra dollars onto closing statements for attorney fees, and other miscellaneous fees that they may claim to be necessary or standard practice. Generally, a contract cannot be closed until these additional fees are paid. Some of the best retirement communities will actually cover all or part of the closing costs themselves, which will save hundreds of dollars in up-front charges and eliminate the possibility of a finding a “big surprise” in the closing statement.

Construction satisfaction guarantee – Does the builder offer a construction satisfaction guarantee like those available at the best retirement communities? With a satisfaction guarantee, you can be confident in the builder’s commitment to your satisfaction. In these guarantees, the builder pledges to fix any construction you are not happy with and may even buy the house back if you are still unhappy at that point. Essentially, choosing a builder in a retirement living community that offers a satisfaction guarantee will bring peace of mind in the construction process.

Conclusion
When considering buying or building a home in a Florida retirement living community, performing a thorough evaluation of the builders and their policies is just as important as evaluating the community itself. Once you’ve compared the best retirement communities and found a retirement living community whose location and amenities fit your lifestyle, look for builders that build their own homes, have a good reputation for quality and service, and offer construction satisfaction guarantees, and be sure the builder tells you about all potential costs upfront. You might save thousands of dollars, and you’ll be certain to enjoy an easy transition to retirement.

About the Author
Tom Eleazer is a partner and vice president for Florida Leisure Communities, which develops Florida retirement communities for active seniors. Florida Leisure Communities has developed and built more than 4,000 homes the last 30 years and is currently building SummerGlen, an award-winning active  Florida golf retirement community in Ocala that was recently named one of the 100 best retirement communities in the U. S. by “Where To Retire” Magazine. Florida Leisure communities have also received the Gold Seal Award from the National Association of Homebuilders as “The Best Retirement Living in America.”


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