From USA Today:
Elazer and Barbara Lew were the first to move in to Pine River Village in Lakewood, N.J., a development for people ages 55 and older.
“I liked the idea of moving to an adult community, with all the services and amenities,” says Barbara, 63, who works at a nearby school for children with special needs. “I liked the idea of having people our own age to socialize with.”
That was three years ago — just before the housing market crashed and the recession hit. Suddenly, older buyers who had wanted to enjoy the amenities that age-restricted communities offer couldn’t sell their homes. On top of that, their retirement funds were taking a beating as stock prices plummeted. Some who had planned to retire and move decided to stay put and keep working.
About 20 Pine River Village homes had sold when the developer approached the homeowners with a proposal: agree to lift the age restriction on housing built on half of the development.
New Jersey, which has a 16-year supply of age-restricted housing, is at the forefront of this movement. The state’s towns and counties welcomed no-kids housing with gusto because the developments created revenue without putting a strain on local school budgets.
“They used that tool too often — to excess,” says Robert Lang, urban sociologist at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. “It was overstocked because it was easy to get approved.”
Ralph Zucker, whose company is building Pine River and Somerset Walk, said many developers “pushed back on regular development because it was a lot easier to do age-restricted communities. … Now, we see an active market for non-restricted housing.”
Last year, New Jersey passed a law that allows developers to ask municipalities to do away with age limits on projects that have already been approved. More affordable housing would be built in return.
From the APP:
An increasing number of developers struggling to find older residents for their 55-plus housing communities have relaxed the age restrictions to attract younger home buyers.
The housing collapse and recession hurt sales in active adult communities, which in the past 10 years had multiplied as the first wave of 79 million Baby Boomers entered retirement. The real estate boom allowed retirees to make big bucks on their old homes and pay cash for smaller houses.
“The 50-plus buyer has had a double whammy in the last couple of years,” says Brian Gentry, president of Landed Gentry Homes and Communities, based in Burlington, Wash. “They lost the ability to turn their house into cash, and a lot of them have taken a pretty big hit in their portfolios.”
His company found more success with multigenerational developments, he says. They built enclaves for younger adults in a Mount Vernon development initially aimed at older buyers.
Somerset Development was building 173 homes for older adults at Pine River Village in Lakewood, N.J., when the market tanked.
“We started right as the market was cooling off, sold about 20 homes and the market just died,” says Ralph Zucker, Somerset president.
He went to the 26 residents at the time for approval and then to Lakewood Township officials for a zoning change. Now, about half of the homes will be for all ages in a separate development.