What makes one 55 and over community more desirable than another? As a specialist in 55 and over communities in Palm Beach County Florida, my average client looking to purchase a home is a couple in their early 60's, from the northeast region of the country. They are evenly split between those looking for a full time residence; and those looking to be snowbirds, residents who spend the winter months in our area.
While I can't speak for the rest of the country, the criteria in Palm Beach County is quite specific as to what makes one 55 and over community more desirable than the next. This article is not based on my opinion, but rather the input I receive from my clients.
SIZE/RECREATIONAL ACTIVITY - The majority of people buying in 55 and over communities express a desire for activity. Many people discuss "Activity"and "Amenities" as one in the same. Although both have an effect on the desirability of a community, I have found that the two are mutually exclusive.
Most of the 55+ communities found in Boynton Beach, Lake Worth, Delray Beach and other cities in Palm Beach County have between 300 and 1000 homes. These communities all have a clubhouse with card rooms, resort style pools, fitness facilities and activities such as men's/women's clubs and card games.
There is no greater inherent value in a larger community than in a smaller community. If you ask a resident in a 1000 home community why their community is the most desirable, they will generally discuss how the large number of residents, increases the participation in clubs, shows, tennis etc. On the other hand, the resident in a 300 home community will discuss the benefits of knowing all their neighbors and a greater sense of community.
The majority of prospective buyers prefer the larger community. Because so many buyers in 55+ communities are looking first for a lifestyle and second for the perfect house, the larger communities generally command a higher price, when compared to the same house in a smaller community. The concern with smaller communities is although there may be a men's club and women's club, how many people will actually participate.
AGE OF THE COMMUNITY - When it comes to 55 and over communities, there are a few reasons that newer communities are more desirable than older communities. One of the most common requests I hear is "I want to live in a 55 and over community, but I want it to be a young community." Assuming buyers are the same age at the time of purchase, one can look at an easy math equation to figure out the difference between a 55 and over community built last year, and one built 10 years ago. Time and time again I have taken clients to homes that fit their criteria in a community that is 10 years old, only to enter the club house and hear "I feel too young to be here". Very often a client will increase their price range so they can be in a newer community.
The other reasons newer communities are more desirable are not exclusive to 55 and over communities. As time passes, building codes become more stringent and therefore buyers feel more comfortable in the quality of a newer house. Florida has been known to have a hurricane or two (or three....). As we have had a few bad years of storms in the past 5 or 6 years, buyers have become a lot more sensitive and aware of the physical strength of the home they are buying. Last but not least, over the past few years it has become common place in newer homes to find standard builder upgrades including items like granite counter tops and wood cabinets.
AMENITIES - Amenities are very important to buyers in 55+ communities in Palm Beach County. As discussed earlier in this article, many buyers put more emphasis on the community and the lifestyle it provides than the actual house. One amenity that has become more and more common (and desirable) is the addition of a café in the clubhouse.
These cafés are generally open for breakfast and lunch and enhance the feeling of resort style living. Some of our local communities that have an on-site café include Valencia Falls, Valencia Palms, Valencia Pointe, Valencia Shores, Bellaggio, Villaggio and The Cascades. There is, of course, a correlation between the size of a community and amenities such as a café. In order to support the economics of a café that is limited to its residents, there needs to be enough residents to take advantage of it. Builders are becoming more and more creative with the amenities they offer. Just ask GL Homes who has plans for a Wii room in their next community, Valencia Reserve.
LOCATION - It has always been considered more desirable to live further east in Florida (at least for cities on the East coast). This still holds true, although the impact on desirability has dropped in recent years. Six or seven years ago builders needed to provide financial incentives to buyers in developments west of the Florida Turnpike. As time has passed, and more land has been developed, location of a community has become less and less important in the desirability of a community. For example, when Venetian Isles was built, the original prices were much lower than competing communities located further east. At that time it felt as though the community was in the middle of nowhere. Soon enough, a local Publix was built, roads were expanded, and other communities were built around it. The statement, "this feels like it is in the middle of nowhere has been replaced with "I like how this feels less congested".
In conclusion, my experience tells me that the main factors which affect the desirability of 55 and over communities include size of the communities, how active a community is, the age of the community, the age of the residents, when it was built, as well as location and amenities.
Not covered in this article but equally important when it comes to new construction is the reputation of the builder. When it comes to reputation, no local builder of 55 and over communities holds a candle to GL Homes.
55 and Over Communities in Palm Beach County Include:
Single Family Homes
Avalon Estates ▪ Baywinds ▪ Bellaggio ▪ Buena Vida ▪ Cascade Lakes ▪ The Cascades ▪ The Club ▪ Coral Lakes ▪ The Grove ▪ Grove Isle ▪ Lakeridge Falls ▪ Lakeridge Greens ▪ Leisureville ▪ Mizner Falls ▪ Palm Isles ▪ Ponte Vecchio ▪ Ponte Vecchio West ▪ Royal Lakes ▪ Tivoli Lakes ▪ Tivoli Reserve ▪ Tuscany Bay ▪ Valencia Falls ▪ Valencia Isles ▪ Valencia Lakes ▪ Valencia Palms ▪ Valencia Pointe ▪ Valencia Reserve ▪ Valencia Shores ▪ Venetian Isles ▪ Villa Borghese ▪ Villaggio ▪ Vizcaya
Aberdeen ▪ Baywinds ▪ Coral Lakes ▪ Delray Villas ▪ Floral Lakes ▪ Huntington Pointe ▪ Majestic Isles ▪ Mayfair ▪ Palm Isles ▪ Tuscany Bay ▪ Venetian Isles
Boca Raton ▪ Boynton Beach ▪ Delray Beach ▪ Highland Beach ▪ Lake Worth/Wellington ▪ Ocean Ridge ▪ West Palm Beach
If you are interested in hearing more about 55 and over communities located in Boynton Beach, Lake Worth, Delray Beach or any other cities located in Palm Beach County, please visit www.JeffreyJKatz.com.