January 31, 2017 — We think a lot of people looking for a place to retire get intimidated when they start to visit active adult and 55+ communities, particularly if they roll up to a gated entrance and face a guard with a clipboard. They might think, “Gosh, maybe we don’t belong here”, or, “I don’t want to go into the sales office because they are going to give me a hard sell”. So we asked some of the professionals we know, advertisers at Topretirements all, how they would advise baby boomers who want to visit and find out more about a community. While we were at it, we tacked on a few other questions about what makes their communities unique, desired amenities, and how they see the current market and the future. We hope you enjoy it.
The format here is that we will print out each question, and then give the answers from each of our 4 active adult community executives. Thanks to them for taking the time to share their expertise! (See end of article for a photo of each community!)
1. What would you advise baby boomers as the best way to explore an active adult or 55+ community, particularly if they are hesitant about one that is gated? Do you have any other advice for boomers to get the most out of their site visits?
Dannet Botkin, President, Design Group Consulting on behalf of RE/MAX of Hot Springs Village, Arkansas
RE/MAX of Hot Springs Village offers a no obligation tour of the 26,000 acre Hot Springs Village community. Our gates provide security, not exclusivity. Although the Village offers real estate options over $1MM, we also have homes starting in the $100,000s with the average home price of approximately $250,000. The low cost of living along with affordable property taxes, mild climate and great variety of amenities from 11 lakes to 30+ miles of nature trails, 9 golf courses, farmer’s market, performing arts and more make Hot Springs Village the best place to retire.
Beth Kuberka, Marketing Manager, Tellico Village, Tennessee.
I would look online to see if they had a Welcome Center and set up a meeting or a tour if they are available.
Raoul Rushin, President, THE LANDINGS COMPANY, Georgia
The Landings near Savannah, Georgia is certainly in the active adult category with a full range of ages, from young families to seniors. Like many of such gated communities, the task of exploring them given their size can be daunting. The Landings is 6,500 acres with many miles of roadway weaving among 4,000+ homes and many obvious and some more hidden amenities. Our sales team is comfortable and used to working with those interested from 6 months to 5 years or more – they know that there is no pressure needed but can be a critical factor is giving interested buyers full exposure to how The Landings may very well meet their needs.
Kevin McCracken, CGM, Keowee Key, South Carolina
Keowee Key gate attendants are typically ambassadors for the community, so I’d recommend approaching the gate and simply inquiring about how best to check it out. You might be surprised to find they anticipate such questions and already have a program in place to accommodate interested buyers. I would also encourage boomers to interact with the residents of any community, including Keowee Key, prior to moving in. Don’t take the word of a Realtor or sales agent, get a feel for the community by renting first, or by visiting on a Discovery Package.
2. What do you think is the single amenity or community feature that makes your property a different and better place to retire? (it is probably the reason why they choose yours over the competition).
Dannet Botkin: The 9 unique golf courses of Hot Springs Village make it a golfer’s paradise. RE/MAX of Hot Springs Village provides discounted golf.
Beth Kuberka: Cost of living and the 4 distinct seasons.
Raoul Rushin: Given our private island location and its inherent beauty along with six championship golf courses, 2 deep water marinas, four clubhouses, tennis, pools, dining, Bocce, Pickleball and so much more combined with literally 100’s of groups of every interest to connect socially; the island alone would offer most everyone an answer to their needs. When combined with our proximity within a short drive to historic Savannah and all it offers, it’s a “one, two punch” that’s hard to beat!
Kevin McCracken: Without question, Lake Keowee is our most attractive feature. Combine this pristine lake with our established community that is rich with amenities and you have the perfect locale.
3. Is there one amenity or feature that people coming to your community ask for that you can’t provide them?
Dannet Botkin: Not often, we have tennis, pickleball, golf, lakes, marinas, beaches, an RV park, dog park, bocce ball, softball, lawn bowling, fitness center, performing arts center, nature trails, veteran’s memorial, community events, farmer’s market, artisan market, rod & gun club, outdoor adventure club, over 20 restaurants and more.
Beth Kuberka: Walking and hiking trails are big and we have those and are in the process of expanding them as well.
Raoul Rushin: Almost never but we do not offer equestrian facilities on our island.
Kevin McCracken: Our menu of amenities at Keowee Key is so varied, that hardly ever happens! We don’t offer equestrian facilities but can direct people to nearby stables if that is an interest.
4. Looking at your crystal ball, what is the biggest recent change in the active adult market you have seen or think is coming?
Dannet Botkin: Internet access and technological advances are at the top on list along with walkable options, adventure sports and the financial soundness of the community.
Beth Kuberka: People seem to be downsizing more now days.
Raoul Rushin: I think in my 25 years, the recession we most recently came out of had a huge impact on their conservatism in regard to their home choice (size, price, etc.) and their interest in making sure that their community of interest is sound financially.
Kevin McCracken: I believe integrated technology is an expectation that will only continue to grow. Seamless use of technology across all amenities and user platforms is essential to providing an enhanced member experience. The challenge for retirement communities will be to manage the transition as the more “seasoned” generation is replaced by those accustomed to technology as a means of obtaining information and communicating.
What do you think? Do you thoughts about these questions — how to visit a community, what amenities or features you are looking for, and how you think the active adult/55+ community should change to meet your needs? Here is your chance to tell the marketers what you are looking for in the Comments section below!