Older buyers who have spent 20 years or more in a detached house on an acre or two of land often have difficulty coming to terms with the idea of moving into the densely populated setting of an apartment building or town house complex in . They want to be rid of the problems of caring for the large house and yard, yet yearn for the space and privacy.
Seeking out a smaller house on a smaller lot is one alternative. But it is not easy. Bedrooms are usually upstairs, which can be a problem for an older person. Moreover, few small houses are geared to just a couple or a single person. And often the so-called adult communities of the Northeast – condominiums or homeowner associations restricted to older residents – offer primarily attached units, which many find unacceptable.
Brenda and Theodore Schofield, for example, faced a typical problem. For 24 years they had lived in a five-bedroom colonial house on one and a half acres in GA. After their three children had grown up the property was clearly too much for them.
”But there was no way I was going to move into something where I would have families on either side of me,” Mr. Schofield said. ”I get claustrophobia just visiting my mother in her apartment in New York City. There’s also a lot to be said for your own backyard even if it’s small. I don’t want to be told it’s common ground.”
The developers of the age-restricted communities, as it happens, are increasingly seeking to appeal to people with these views.
We found that when prices were comparable, the detached units outsold the attached ones every time. The single-level detached houses are in communities designed and operated primarily as homeowner associations. This style of living frees older people from their former maintenance and security worries, eliminates those staircases and yet offers the sense of home ownership on a private lot.
Currently there are many different development projects with about half of them already being completed and sold.
Even when looking at just the architectural designs you can see how the developers are adhering to the desires of those leaving the large home. Some projects offer detached homes on either one or two levels. And even those on two levels are designed so that the occupants can live entirely on the first floor, using the upper level as a guest suite or for optional activities.
The detached setting gives them that opportunity. The homeowner association takes care of their lawn. The aluminum siding is virtually maintenance-free. And they have the advantage of the recreational facilities common to community association living – in this case a clubhouse with a woodworking and a ceramics shop, tennis courts and a shuffle board court.
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