Top Homebuyer Questions About Active Adult Living

Older couple reviewing plans with Realtor.
With more Baby Boomers entering the age of retirement, it’s important to understand their questions about active adult communities.

The National Association of Realtors reports that the median age of the new real estate agent is 43 years old, making it likely that you’ve never shopped for an active adult community — sometimes referred to as a 55+ community.

And if you’ve never shopped for an active adult community, or at least helped a client shop for one, you likely have just as many questions as they do. With more and more Baby Boomers nearing the age of retirement, it’s easy to see where this could create a problem.

Many builders offer communities that cater to the active adult homebuyer, which means these buyers are hitting the market with a slew of questions of their own. In order to help them out, real estate pros with expertise in 55+ communities say you should visit your local active adult communities to find the answers to the following questions:

1.) How old do you really have to be to live in an active adult community?

You generally have to be at least 55 years old to live in a 55+ specific community, but that isn’t always the case.

You generally have to be at least 55 years old to live in a 55+ specific community, but that isn’t always the case.

“If you are a married couple, then in many communities, as long as one person has reached the age of 55, both may move into the community,” says Tamara Williams, broker and owner of Sweetlife Realty Group in Port St. Lucie, Fla. “Some communities impose additional restrictions and may require the spouse to reach a minimum age, say 50 or 52.”

But if you are single and under the age of 55, there may be special exceptions written into the community bylaws so it never hurts to ask. Additionally, if the active adult community isn’t specifically 55+, there may be even lower age limits.

“Baby Boomers are the second-largest population group right now behind Millennials,” adds Kristina Lloyd, project manager with David Weekley Homes and Encore at FishHawk Ranch, a 55+ community in Lithia, Fla. “We find our homebuyers are still working, considering retiring in the next several years and, of course, the older Boomers who are ready to downsize and simplify their life.”

2.) What kind of rules are in place in an active adult community?

Other than age limits, another common rule in place among many active adult communities relates to visitors and children.

“Generally, visitors cannot stay more than 30 days unless written permission is granted,” says Williams. “Additionally, children under 18 usually cannot go anywhere in the community without being accompanied by an adult.”

Another common restriction applies to pets. Some may forbid pets completely, others may place limits on the type and weight of the pet. For instance, cats may be allowed regardless of size or breed and only dogs under 30 pounds.

“There are rules in the community to ensure that the quality of life remains enjoyable and peaceful for all,” Williams adds. “For instance, motorcycles may not be allowed due to the noise and certain types of fencing or planting may be limited in order to keep properties looking neat, clean and unified.”

3.) What are the benefits of an active adult community compared to a regular community?

To answer this question, you really need to get to know your client.

“The benefits of an age-restricted community can be different for different people,” says Lloyd. “Social interactions with a similarly aged population can be very important for those looking for companionship. Most buyers want a change from neighborhoods with lots of children and privacy can become very important.”

Another benefit is that most active adult communities offer great amenities and social activities daily. For the retired homebuyer, this makes it easy for them to get out of the house and enjoy their hobbies with other residents.

Yet for other buyers, it may be that draw of maintenance-free living.

4.) Can you define maintenance free?

When an active adult community markets itself as maintenance free, it’s important to find out just how “maintenance free” they are talking.

Will landscaping be provided? What about other routine home maintenance fixes?

“Maintenance-free options vary by community, but the most common are lawn care, exterior painting of the home (every five to seven years or so) and services such as basic cable, water and Internet may be included,” says Williams.

5.) What are the extra fees involved with living here?

Sometimes those maintenance features are covered in a monthly homeowner’s fee, which also covers other aspects of the community, such as amenities and security services. Your local builders should be able to provide that information.

Lloyd, for instance, says the fees at Encore cover lawn care, gates for the community/common areas and the various activities offered at their clubhouse, The Oasis.

“Newer homes offer such energy and insurance savings that most buyers will find they will more than make up for any fees we charge,” she adds.

6.) What activities are available in this community?

Perhaps the biggest drawing factor of active adult communities are the amenities and activities, so make sure you get an updated list from your local builders.

“At The Oasis, we offer weekly, ongoing activates, as well as special events throughout the month,” says Lloyd. “Exercise classes, clubs, pickleball and ‘Wine Down Wednesdays’ seem to be the most popular.”

Other communities might offer day trips to local events, on-site concerts and resident-run organizations like a garden club, chess club, cooking groups, sewing groups and weekly book club meetings.

Yet, just like in a regular new-home community, not all amenities, rules and age limits will be the same in every active adult community. It’s important to take the time to build a relationship with your local builders and get to know the communities they offer so you have the answers relative to the clients in your area.

About the author 

Drew Knight

Drew Knight is a freelance writer for Builders Digital Experience (BDX). He graduated from Texas A&M University in December 2014 with a degree in agricultural communications and journalism.

He previously edited and designed pages for the Bryan-College Station (Texas) city paper The Eagle, wrote for the Brazos Valley’s premier arts and entertainment publication Maroon Weekly and worked in publicity at Warner Bros. Records in New York City.

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