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Strong 55+ Housing Market Continues

Category: Retirement Real Estate

May 11, 2019 — The National Association of Home Buyers (NAHB) reports that the market continues to be strong for 55+ homebuyers and renters. While many baby boomers will not be moving soon, there is a significant segment that is seeking a change in their living arrangements. “Overall, demand for homes in 55+ communities remain strong as more buyers and renters in that market search for simpler living arrangements,” said Karen Schroeder, chair of NAHB’s 55+ Housing Industry Council and vice president of Mayberry Homes in East Lansing, Mich. “However, there are still headwinds that are impacting the market, such as rising construction costs and a lack of skilled labor.”

Elsewhere, the site has an interesting article (referred to us by our own “Nomadic pilot”) that outlines the complexity of the 55+ homebuying landscape. There are many threads to the market. Many experts predicted there would be a mass selloff of suburban homes as aging boomers moved out, either to 55+ communities or urban apartments. While that has happened to some extent, there are still millions of boomers who continue to live where they always have.

Comments? What do you think is going to happen in the retirement housing market? Are you planning on changing where you live and the type of home, or are you staying where you live now? Please add your Comments below.

Posted by Admin on May 10th, 2019


  1. I feel more people in retirement will choose to relocate to a manufactured home community. It is the top choice for anyone wanting to downsize or to have more money to travel or to have more money to invest for health costs. This is especially true if you are living on the west coast. We sold our family home and looking to purchase a condo or a Mfg home with land. Inland Riverside county is very popular and the homes sell in a few days because the prices range from $85000 for a 2 br condo or $69,000 for a 2 br Mfg home with land. That’s our choice and will be purchasing in the next few weeks!!

    by Mary11 — May 11, 2019

  2. I’d predict the 55+ market will continue to grow for another 10 years or so and then start to fizzle a little as the boomers are all retired and there is a drop in new retirees. Beyond that, who knows? In areas where vacant real estate is at a premium maybe some of the original 55+ communities will be torn down and replaced with whatever is in demand at the time or perhaps some communities will sell open space to have an assisted living facility added. SA for my husband and me; we just closed on a nice house in a small 55+ community is a great location and are looking forward to staying there for the next 50+ years (updating it as needed 🙂

    by Jean — May 11, 2019

  3. If the housing market tanks, like it did after 2008, and seniors cannot sell their homes to move to 55+ communities it will be a different story.

    by Sandie — May 12, 2019

  4. Jean, what is SA?

    by JCarol — May 12, 2019

  5. JCarol, LOL, SA is bad typing for As.

    by Jean — May 13, 2019

  6. LOL indeed, Jean. I thought you bought in some new kind of 55+ community!!! Too funny!

    As RV campers who travel around the southwest US while vacationing, I have been surprised and impressed by the number of RV resorts that have permanent or snowbirding residents who live in little cottages of 400-700 square feet, not including screened in porches and other add-on amenities.

    These so-called “park models” are a cross between an RV, a manufactured home, and a cottage. They’re quite affordable, offer a great opportunity for people to live in a community of like minded people, while also having exposure to travelers who stop by for just a few days.

    With respect to the original question – housing prices wax and wane, but homes will always be in demand when they’re in solid communities with reasonable proximity to good employment opportunities.

    I don’t expect baby boomers to cash out of their homes en masse. Many are choosing to do minor remodels that make their homes more senior-friendly. My husband and I have wrestled with this issue and decided that short of a health crisis we will stay put for at least the next five years, at which point we’ll reevaluate.

    by JCarol — May 13, 2019

  7. JCarol, once again I agree — though my thinking is for a feet first exit since we have a good long term care policy.

    At this point, for me the only other reasonable option might be an RV community, but I would have to be extremely selective (picky) about the right kind of place for us. (We aren’t enthusiastic about “typical” RV parks that we happened to tour.) We built our current home of 26 years intending it to be our retirement home. With consistent maintenance and some upgrades (many who visit express surprise that it is not almost new), we have what we want and have realized we could never replace it though it’s now big for just us. A retirement RV community where we could again quickly customize to our particular likings is about the only way we could recover the “sunk” investment. But “particular” is the key word.

    by RichPB — May 13, 2019

  8. Rich, yes, you and I seem to be on the same page much of the time.

    My husband and I make sure that any and all updates to our home will increase its eventual resale value. We bear in mind what changes will be more accommodative for aging bodies AND appealing to the average thirty-somethings who’ll likely be the next owners. There are ways to do both. For instance, those daytime TV ads for step-in bathtubs fail to mention that they’d surely turn off potential buyers. Not so with a walk in shower large enough to accommodate a shower chair. Who doesn’t like a roomy shower?

    Regarding RV parks, we quite like some of them for a week or two and could maybe even stay in one for a snowbird (or heat escapee) month, but that would probably be our limit. Retirement communities don’t appeal to us. We enjoy the sound of children playing and are even ok with them cutting across our lawn now and again. ?

    by JCarol — May 14, 2019

  9. Yes, a roomy shower with chair AND a no-slip mat are a must as age overtakes. As for the step-in bath, I love when they say it takes only two minutes to drain — while you sit there shivering.

    by RichPB — May 15, 2019

  10. I would love to see articles on over 55 rentals around the country. Many retirees want to get out of ownership for many reasons, and would love a NICE age restricted rental community.

    by Donna — May 15, 2019

  11. Manufactured homes are nice in an area without tornadoes!

    by Donna — May 15, 2019

  12. We first downsized to a condo. It wasn’t 55 yrs and older but the majority of the people were. We stayed quite a few years. I much rather hear children playing and laughing then getting stuck at the mailbox listening to a bunch of older people complain about everything. We moved to a darling 2 bedroom house within walking distance to absolutely everything we need. We live on a street now that has old, middle age and young families. For us it’s SO much better for our outlook. Our children and grandchildren LOVE coming to visit. Once we moved they all told us individually they hated the other place. I don’t understand this desire to only live with other old people. Old people can be just as annoying as young people. Maybe a few month out of the year would be ok but forever? Dreadful

    by Kathy — May 15, 2019

  13. We plan to move to an active, all age community in the SE. I foresee current retirement communities, perhaps, will have difficulty drawing folks as more and more communities are being built. I live in a rural area in IA but close to a large population. Time to get away from collage age and a town that caters to that age group. Looking forward to not having to drive 15 miles one way just to do something! Just too much solitude and loneliness in the country for me. Want that emotional and community support. Will be looking forward to less yard (4 acres approx.) work and more play! Also looking forward to exploring new sites and attractions.

    by Vicki — May 15, 2019

  14. Kathy– I have long agreed with you. It is not good to isolate oneself to a community that may age out–and the amenities will only get older–like the residents. It is better to be around people of all ages, younger people keep one active, young, at least in thinking, and current on world events and possibly popular culture. The younger people also need the influence and guidance of the older generations. I personally will never live in a 55+ community. If you want a quieter community, find one at least that borders a mixed age neighborhood.

    by Jennifer — May 16, 2019

  15. Based on what I have researched and observed, I think 55+ retirement communities will decline in popularity as time goes on. New developments may continue to sell well now, but there are already signs that the resale market in older communities is suffering.

    In Sun City, AZ, which was built between 1960 and 1975, houses sell for significantly less (in terms of price per square foot) than most other areas of Phoenix, and they stay on the market for longer. The population has been decreasing. I predict that many other communities will follow this path as time moves on.

    I think there are many generational differences between older retirees and the Baby Boomer generation who are now in their 50s and 60s, and this will continue when Gen-Xers start retiring.

    The Baby Boomer generation typically places less emphasis on leisure and recreation and more emphasis on personal growth, individuality, and seeking fulfillment. Golf is declining in popularity and we are more inclined to engage in writing, performing music, creating art, volunteering, or mentoring – pursuits that bring meaning and satisfaction to our lives. As a result, people who are now retiring are more likely to want to stay in the mainstream of society and live closer to an urban center than to retreat to a retirement village, most of which are located on the edge of town or in rural settings.

    I’m now 62, and I know only a couple friends who live in retirement communities. The vast majority of my friends and I have no desire to retire there. Maybe we are an anomaly, but I think there is a generational shift away from them.

    Dave Hughes

    by Dave Hughes — May 16, 2019

  16. Kathy, where did you move to?

    ( Folks, if you comment on a community – good or bad – pls tell us the NAME!)


    by Pat — May 17, 2019

  17. I have so enjoyed reading everyones thoughts on 55 communities. After tossing around the thought of a manufactured home community, I have yet to find one where lot rent is not so darn high. Any thoughts out there on this?

    by Wanda Socia — May 18, 2019

  18. Dave, I agree that there will be a decline in 55+ community popularity but I think it will be simply do to the fact that once the boomers all retire there will be a drop in new retirees. As for the houses in older communities sitting on the market, that might be because those houses built in the 60s, 70s, and even 80s are tiny shoe boxes and often poorly built. The people buying into 55+ communities today want better built houses than the old places offer. I’m not familiar with Az but in the old 55+ places in south Jersey the “flippers” are buying those houses for next to nothing, totally renovating them and putting them back on the market – except a few of the original communities in which the houses are so small and poorly made they aren’t worth anything. One thing I have noted is that some communities are popping up that allow people 50 or even 45 to buy in; it wouldn’t be surprising if more HOAs take steps to allow that if there are too many vacant houses. While lots of us boomers do want a more free-style life style, builders will catch on. We happily found a nice community more like a neighborhood since there are only 58 houses and it’s surrounded by “all age” developments, no pool, no clubhouse, just walking / biking paths, walkable into a bustling but historic town, a back yard we can plant whatever we want in and the hoa will take care of mowing whatever grass we leave and will remove the snow right up to the door, etc.

    by Jean — May 18, 2019

  19. Wanda, look for a resident-owned over-55 community. They are not always easy to find, but the advantage is the local residents elect a Board, and lot rental price increases are much more reasonable, at least where we live in CA. Woodland Estates is a small, older, community (285 manufactured houses) and in the 6 years we’ve lived here our costs have increased minimally, compared to the value of land in the area. When one buys a home here, you also buy into the corporation, and the residents decide everything. We have by-laws, and Rules and Regulations, but frankly, they’re pretty sensible. Another privately owned over-55 community we first looked at has seen space rental increase by at least a third. Our monthly lot “rent” includes water, sewer, garbage, road maintenance, and the maintenance of a large green space, clubhouse, pool, gym, tennis court, and the salary of a manager.

    by Marianne — May 18, 2019

  20. Wanda, I offered info concerning inland southern CA at the very top of this page. Concerning the Mfg homes where you own the land the HOA is usually $120 -200 per month. There is no lot rent. A lot of them offer free cable with many social clubs too. It does get warm in the summer but you save A lot of money by moving inland. We’re trying to decide if we prefer condos or a manufactured home community. Hoas include more assessment s but a condo has more value….

    by Mary11 — May 18, 2019

  21. I spent my early 60s looking at 55+ communities. I ultimately discovered they weren’t for me for several reasons, including the possible difficulty of resale in the future, high HOA fees for maintenance (and insurance costs) for amenities I wouldn’t use, road maintenance or other risks that I didn’t want to assume, and the mass-produced quality of the majority of 55+ communities that I visited. I also decided I didn’t want to be surrounded by “old” people all the time. I knew that was ridiculous but I don’t see myself in the mirror either LOL.

    I ultimately bought a detached cluster home with a 1st floor master among other amenities. My taxes are high, but there are numerous public amenities (huge library, senior center & senior programs, community center with indoor and outdoor pools, senior programs at the local colleges, international airport, public golf courses and waterfront parks, walking tracks etc) that are being supported by those taxes. My $210 HOA covers our neighborhood’s snow plowing, sidewalk shoveling, gas lantern maintenance, cleaning gutters twice a year, full yard maintenance, tree pruning, and even washing exterior windows. The negatives? Brrrrr. Winter (but Fall is beautiful). And it turned out that I’m in…..a retirement community. Every single one of my neighbors in this 80+ home community is a retiree, since that’s who actually ended up buying the cluster homes. It’s not perfect – for ex., our HOA doesn’t want a neighborhood Facebook page since the HOA President decided too few residents could figure out how to use it. And there are a large number of elderly little dogs being walked here LOL. I’m sure God is laughing at all of my prejudices against 55+ communities, since I still ended up in one.

    Anyway — condos and cluster homes should be viewed as a possible alternative when shopping in an area. As an additional benefit, they might appeal to a broader market of singles, empty nesters etc. when there are fewer baby boomers to buy into those huge 55+ communities.

    by Kate — May 19, 2019

  22. Kate, that sounds like exactly what I am looking for, except for the snow part. However, I am unclear about what a stand alone cluster home is. Your description sounds like a condo except with individual units that don’t share any walls with other units. Do you own the land that the unit sits on or is it all common ground owned by the community? Are there fenced yards? Can you elaborate on the concept?

    by LS — May 20, 2019

  23. LS – In my cluster home community, the houses are completely separate from each other so there are no adjoining walls. I own my exterior and everything 6′ around the house. Owners can plant flower beds, customize their sidewalks etc. Our HOA owns and maintains the rest. The houses are all on cul-de-sacs with a good distance between them. (I didn’t want to be so close to neighbors that they could hear my jukebox playing my Woodstock albums.) We have some big trees and wooded areas, an unmanned gatehouse & a wall that separates our neighborhood from a busy road.

    Homes have gas lanterns maintained by the HOA, although owners pay the gas bill for their own lantern and own their home’s utility lines. There are HOA restrictions to keep the houses aesthetically consistent, like needing HOA approval to change exterior door colors. There are no fenced yards but there are parks — including dog parks — nearby. There are two neighborhood ponds. The HOA is responsible for any fights with Canadian geese or kids in the nearby family-neighborhoods who might be tempted to fish, swim or ice-skate there.

    Our cluster homes are about 20 years old and are starting to flip from the original homeowners to the next group of retirees who are updating them. They range from 1400 sq. ft to around 3,000 sq.ft. not counting unfinished basements. I heard they were originally priced starting in the low 200’s. One of the large, updated homes just sold in a day for nearly $400K. Location is great for numerous reasons, including proximity to a hospital, shopping, etc. – while still seeing deer, a coyote and other wildlife in our “yard.”

    When I was retirement shopping, I discovered several neighborhoods of “cluster homes” in other locations. It seemed to be a good half-way step between condos and owning a home with a yard. I thought the homes would appeal to people in every age-group who didn’t have kids, since there is no playground. Yup — it did — and it turned out they’re all retirees LOL.

    by Kate — May 20, 2019

  24. Kate, please share the city or town name of your community. It sounds like a good fit for hubby and myself! We are currently in the Blue Ridge Mountains in a great mountain home, but all stores and other conveniences are a 30 minute, each way, drive … a bit much for that loaf of bread and bottle of milk! We have very few neighbors, and they all live here seasonally, so isolation becomes depressing. Your community sounds friendly and comforting, and the HOA handles many of those outside winter issues, so sitting inside with a cup of hot chocolate watching it all take place would be lovely!

    by Helene — May 20, 2019

  25. Helene – I know that my final selection is going to be a surprise, especially after looking at all of the usual, well-publicized Southeastern retirement destinations and typical retirement locations. I’m actually in a suburb of Cleveland, OH (Westlake/Avon! The top ranked cardiac hospital in the nation (a hospital and doctors everywhere you look, multiple universities, gorgeous lakefront parks, concerts, ethnic festivals somewhere almost every weekend, international airport, etc. I have everything I could possibly want within a 3-5 mile radius. OK – maybe my car dealership and a huge indoor mall for walking are 6 miles away.

    It had everything I wanted except taxes are high and winters are cold – but as I said, I actually get a LOT for my taxes and the cold is ok for me. I’ve experienced waking up at 3 am to hear guys shoveling my sidewalks though, which was certainly something new to me. I’ve been surprised at te huge senior population, so I see my “people” everywhere I go in addition to my own friendly neighbors. And in my case, two of my kids are medical professionals who have started to put down roots in the general area. This journey was a huge surprise to me, since OH wasn’t anywhere close to my list when I started hunting for my retirement destination. I was so sure I’d want to be within an hour of the ocean and have sunny weather all the time. The message to take-away is to be open-minded, since you never know where your perfect retirement could actually be found..

    by Kate — May 21, 2019

  26. Kate, thank you so much for your very informative reply! I have a lot of research to do now and feel encouraged that perhaps “the one” is our there. Just finished looking at several communities after a google search for cluster homes in the areas you mentioned, and Cottage Gate in Avon looks interesting. It seems to get more info I will need to contact the sales office listed. The area taxes are high, but as you said, you get a lot for your money there. Holy Cow, it appears the shopping areas are everywhere, and medical services are so important to us (hubby has many problems, including cardiac). Currently we travel to Asheville, NC for his medical care, 3 hrs. each way, and frequently an overnight stay at a local hotel is necessary to accommodate his appointments. I cannot thank you enough for guiding me to this possible future location!!!

    by Helene Botch — May 21, 2019

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