“Healthy lifestyle” and “concierge service” are the operative words that perhaps best describe what the emerging generation of active adults is looking for in today's communities. Golf courses remain big attractions in luring retirees of all ages to resort communities, but builders are broadening their efforts to attract a younger, more health-conscious retiree with a fuller gamut of amenities to satisfy mental, physical, and social appetites.
One-third of homeowners Pulte has polled expect to live to 100 years old. So it's not surprising that active adults would favor communities whose environment helps sustain their longevity. “There is a tremendous emphasis on fitness,” observed Robert Strudler, vice chairman for Lennar, which has built fitness centers at all 28 of its age-restricted communities. “People are living longer so this is becoming a more important factor.” Bill Slenker, a Maryland developer whose company has worked with several big builders, said his communities have on-staff physical therapists and masseuses.
Increasingly, buyers are looking to active retirement communities to provide the kind of activities and personal services that they have become accustomed to while staying at vacation resorts. One of the clubhouses in Levitt & Sons' community in Lake Worth, Fla., includes a demonstration kitchen where cooking classes are conducted. WCI Communities offers Pilates and yoga classes, and Shea Homes' communities offer instruction in meditation and taichi, said that builder's vice president of sales and marketing, Eric Snider. Shea also offers educational classes provide information about far-off destinations where owners can book a trip through a travel agency with which Shea has a strategic alliance.
Some younger retirees, though, have less leisure time because they're still working. Nearly three-fifths of the buyers at Toll Brothers' recently opened Riviera community in East Windsor, N.J., are dual-income couples, said Rich Hartman, Toll's senior vice president. He added that 40 percent of Toll's customers for homes in all of its active-adult communities are employed. These owners are often technologically savvy and have less need for computer classes that once were popular in active-adult communities. What's more important to them is for their homes to be designed and wired for multiple uses.
“This is very much a marketing issue in the way the models are presented,” said Richard Gollis, a California-based real estate adviser.