The days of sleepy communities over 55 are over. Today’s iteration is brilliantly designed and full of activities. In fact, even the nomenclature has changed: This crowd is “55 or older” and they’re looking for communities that reflect that change. A recent study found that the market size for the active adult community was estimated to be $565 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach over $587 billion in 2022.
With such growth, builders and developers need to keep abreast of trends related to home, environment and culture. By doing so, they can meet the wants and needs of buyers. The result? Dynamic places offering a lifestyle that stands out in the competitive active adult space.
WHAT MAKES AN ADULT COMMUNITY SUCCESS
Brookfield Properties, an award-winning North American Planned Communities (MPC) developer, is no stranger to delivering development that goes above and beyond. Working with renowned home builders like Pulte/Del Webb, Miller & Smith, David Weekley Homes and Toll Brothers, Brookfield Properties knows a thing or two about what it takes to attract discerning buyers 55 or older. Here are some of the key trends behind today’s thriving active adult communities.
With children out of the house, empty nests flock to communities of active adults to begin the next chapter of their lives. They prefer private members-only options, like pools, pickleball courts, and gated entrances. Another feature at the top of the list is something that many over-55 communities lack: grandchild-friendly options like playgrounds, special events, and built-in play areas in resident living rooms. or fitness centers. In several communities planned by Brookfield Properties, they get the best of both worlds, with active adults-only amenities and access to shared neighborhood amenities. To kissing tree in San Marcos, TX, residents enjoy low-maintenance living with included lawn care options and an 18-hole golf course just steps from their front door. Upscale options create a resort feel and provide residents with a quiet space to call home.
Access to popular retail and commercial space is another major draw in mixed-use planned communities. For instance, Nexton, an award-winning best-selling MPC in Summerville, SC, has more than 120 restaurants and shops within its perimeter. With a diverse mix of local and regional businesses for residents and visitors to explore, well-designed mixed-use communities invite commerce and community development.
The perfect proximity
Location is a key factor in the buying decisions of active adult shoppers. As developers of MPC, our experience indicates that buyers over 55 want to live near their children and grandchildren during this next phase of their lives, even if they are only there part-time. . Planned communities that include dedicated neighborhoods for active adults provide the right mix of closeness (to loved ones), personal space, and private amenities. These communities also allow lateral movement; that is, residents who already live in an MPC with an active adult subsection can transition to an apartment, condo, or patio house without leaving the neighborhood where they have built their lives.
Migration to suburban communities is another trend we have observed. Studies show that more and more elderly and retired people are leaving overcrowded cities to settle in smaller towns. However, they still want easy access to retail, restaurants and events that metropolitan areas offer. Suburban communities allow residents to enjoy the benefits of a city without having to deal with the daily hustle and bustle. For example, more than 55 shoppers in the DC market may live an hour out of town at Waterfalls at Embrey Mill in Stafford, Virginia.
Community and connection
One thing the 55+ crowd has in common is starting over. Whether it’s downsizing, retiring, experiencing an empty nest, or making the leap to a new city, these residents typically face a drastic change in their daily lives. Choosing to move into an active adult community comes with a built-in sense of place via a myriad of amenities; neighborhood events; and shared spaces, inside and out, not to mention a natural kinship with other residents who are looking for the same things.
Active adult communities should be just that: active. From potlucks to happy hour to cooking classes, there’s no shortage of opportunities to meet new people. To river lights in Wilmington, North Carolina, neighbors come together for events such as “craft & unwine” and free summer concerts, as well as local dishes at Groove Market.
Those 55 and older tend to have higher disposable income than younger buyers. This crowd is also more discerning, as they have decades of life experience to guide them. From a developer’s perspective, we notice that builders are paying attention. We’re seeing more floor plans for single-level living, outdoor living spaces like screened porches, gourmet kitchens designed for ease and convenience, and a growing range of customizable options.
Today’s buyers aged 55 or older are ready to design their life and their home as they see fit. When builders cater to the unique needs of a demographic, it creates sea change. In this case, the dormant active adult communities of yesterday are now tuning in and turning on. We expect more great things to come.
About Brookfield Properties
Brookfield Properties is a leading global developer and operator of high quality real estate assets. We are active in nearly every real estate sector, including office, retail, multi-family, hospitality and logistics, operating over 675 properties and over 325 million square feet of real estate in hub cities around the world on behalf of Brookfield Asset Management, one of the world’s largest asset managers. With a focus on sustainability, a commitment to excellence and a drive to relentlessly innovate in the planning, development and management of buildings and their surroundings, Brookfield Properties is reimagining real estate from the ground up. For more information, visit www.brookfieldproperties.com.