Two top 20 builders, Standard Pacific and Weyerhaeuser Real Estate, are suddenly beating aggressive paths into the Active Adult market segment, with big plans for 2007 and beyond. Each is modifying homes and communities currently aimed at “move-up” buyers to better suit the swelling ranks of aging baby boomers.

Standard Pacific and Weyerhaeuser, respectively the nation's 11th and 17th home builders ranked by unit sales of homes in 2005, according to BUILDER magazine, are adapting product, land position, and community marketing strategies to sell, build, and close more homes that have an age-qualified value offering to buyers. Neither builder's plans call for setting up a separately marketed community brand name, along the lines of Pulte's Del Webb, Shea's Trilogy, and K. Hovnanian's Four Seasons brands. Nonetheless, they're intent on staking a claim in Active Adult turf, even as the market segment accounted for a full 10 percent of the top 100 companies' half-million homes sold in 2005.

Standard Pacific and Weyerhaeuser's Pardee, Winchester, Quadrant, Trendmaker, and newly acquired Maracay brands all enjoy a higher mix of move-up home buyers vs. entry level home sales. They each intend to leverage current strength among married-with-children move-up buyers toward a rapidly evolving married couple-without-children segment, and other less-traditional households baby boomers are moving into, with a reported $4 trillion in wealth they're bringing to bear.

Standard Pacific's Active Adult play, although less dramatic in that it doesn't involve setting up a separate company or discrete division, is farther along in its execution. In Orange County, Calif., Standard Pacific has two Active Adult projects that reflect a more holistic, integrated approach to the segment. San Sabastian, a 134-unit, three-story attached community near Laguna Beach, offers coastal recreation and posh shopping cache in a higher-density product. In Brea, Standard Pacific is creating a multi-generational, mixed-use, live-work, master planned community of 1,000 or more homes, some with an age-targeted component in a former Unocal infill property. In California's Inland Empire, StanPac will joint venture with Lennar on a 750-unit age-qualified project around what was originally to have been a golf course.

SEEKING ACTIVE ADULTS: Two builders look for ways to attract aging baby boomers and tap into an estimated $4 trillion in wealth with projects that reflect a holistic approach to its housing and includes shopping and recreation. Las Vegas and Phoenix are also on the radar, according to Ralph Spargo, Standard Pacific's general manager for Gallery Communities, who is heading up the company's Active Adult initiative. “We don't want to compete with the branded builders, so we're focusing on home products and community building that more closely fits what we're already doing,” says Spargo, who estimates that as much of 30 percent of Standard Pacific's business is likely to migrate into the Active Adult sphere over the next several years.

Meanwhile, Weyerhaeuser's Winchester Homes division in the District of Columbia metro area is blueprinting a concerted move into Active Adult-age qualified-communities in the perimeter region around the nation's capital. Already, Winchester has taken down a significant piece of property in Frederick, Md., and has begun what it expects to be an almost two-year approvals process to build homes that will be designed by architects Bassenian/Lagoni.

Winchester president Larry Burrows expects that the Winchester's Active Adult communities in the Washington, D.C. market will draw up to 70 to 90 percent of its home buyers directly from the greater metropolitan area, while as many as three in ten would be coming from out of the area.

“Our heavy emphasis in doing these communities will be on their attraction to people who want to congregate with family and friends, socialize, recreate, shop, and have access to culture,” says Burrows.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Los Angeles, CA.