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Old 08-19-2014, 08:26 AM   #81
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Good post; rings true based on my observations of such communities. Put yourself in the heirs' position: They don't want Mom and Dad's depressing old condo, nor do they want to stay in it while it is fixed up to get a better price. They just want to settle the @#!$ estate and get on with life.

One comment I'd like to make, though: Domineering busybodies know no age limits. The HOA for our rental townhouse, which we recently sold, consisted of 3 thirty-somethings and a couple of youngish 60-year-olds. They were going to "revitalize" the HOA (their words). Quarterly walk-throughs, close-up inspections of each townhouse's front and back, were followed by threatening letters about mulching, exterior lights showing too much oxidation, front window screens not exactly matching, etc. From talking with the ladies at the management company who sent out the letters, this HOA was the most overactive one they'd ever seen.

So you see...the busybodies in the elderly communities have had a lifetime of practice. Criticizing other people probably keeps them alive.

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Thought I'd share our experiences living in a 55+ community for the last 7.5 years (we are 63/61 currently - bought in here early at 55). A lot of things happened during that time that probably won't be repeated in my lifetime, but worth sharing to enlighten those thinking of buying in a 55+ community.

We bought in January 2007 (home was built in 2006 for another retiree who backed out as they couldn't sell their home in time to close on this one). I knew the market was going bad, but that houses in the Midwest didn't really lose value (or so I thought up until then). Also thought that retirees had the money in this world and I would be protected from harm if things got bad (boy, was I wrong on that one). We bought in a more upscale retirement community as additional insulation from any real estate market hazards (wrong again).

Our home dropped in value almost $60K in two years and hasn't gotten within $20k of its original value to date. Keep in mind that I beat the builder up on the price for over $28k when we bought it. Many of the folks here paid what you might call list price back in 2006/2007 when the builder closed out, and probably will never get close to getting their money back unless they stay for at least +/- 10 more years. One of my neighbors who was very vocal against those dumping their places - ended up going in a home with his disabled wife and let his property go - losing over $100k..

In my lifetime - I've never seen a sheriff's eviction - until moving here. This is where the sheriff puts someone's belongings out in the yard and padlocks the doors. This place is still selling foreclosures and short sales currently. When someone dies or goes to a home - the people inheriting that residence put the home on the market at a "dump-it" price as they want the money and don't want to pay the taxes or HOAs (or possible mortgage). Very hard to get home pricing up when all this is taking place. The last one never ends. Not too many homes for sale by people just wanting to move on, as the downward pressure on pricing keeps them from listing. This is an issue you need to understand before buying in a retirement community. Realtors I met don't discuss these things and people selling in retirement communities are all positive as they want to get out

We have a golf course, an indoor pool at the clubhouse, an outdoor adult pool, and a family pool. The place has all the amenities one could want in a retirement facility (pools, workout room and planned activities). Retirees all seem to want these amenities, but few actually utilize them. We swim laps three times a week and no one except the bobbing old ladies in aqua class use the pool (better not want to swim when they are in the pool). Pretty much the same for the workout room. On the other hand - can't swim laps in the outdoor pool as the summer squatters will chase you away. Can only play pool during certain weekend hours as that room is taken up by "clubs" either playing pool or cards. Golf actually is pretty much open, but slow play is the rule.

When we go for walks at night or ride our bikes during the day - hardly anyone is out, except those who walk their dogs. Kind of dead as far as neighborhoods go. You only see neighbors when their garage door opens and they are going out somewhere.

Activities are plentiful at the clubhouse, as well as organized trips. Good for those who don't want to drive and would like to socialize with others at that time.

If you want to keep old people busy in one of these places - just have them join a committee. There are more committees here than carter has liver pills, as the old saying goes. Some of them, like the architectural committee walk through your yard at least twice yearly looking for unapproved improvements to landscaping or homes (even exterior repainting must be pre-approved). I agree that there is a need for rules, but committees can be a negative factor and affect the view of these communities by realtors and potential buyers.

We only planned on staying around 5 years to watch our grandchildren grow up and then move to where it's warmer. As you can guess by my view of our current community - probably wouldn't buy in a 55+ community again. Didn't recall anyone posting on this thread about actually living in one of these communities and what all is involved (good and bad), so thought I share my thoughts. No one really discusses these issues that I'm aware of, so wanted to put our experience out there to help others evaluate if 55+ communities are for them
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Old 08-19-2014, 11:41 AM   #82
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Thanks for all the info, I do not believe the villages or any 55+ community is for us. I prefer to do my own itineraries/planning, + the family members have young children that would not fit in, and this place is mainly for their enjoyment during vacations, as it is as much of an investment.

I am looking for a beach area (within walking distance, not beachfront), with grocery and public transport to same. Thanks for posting
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Old 08-19-2014, 02:11 PM   #83
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Originally Posted by fritz View Post
Thought I'd share our experiences living in a 55+ community for the last 7.5 years (we are 63/61 currently - bought in here early at 55). A lot of things happened during that time that probably won't be repeated in my lifetime, but worth sharing to enlighten those thinking of buying in a 55+ community.

We bought in January 2007 (home was built in 2006 for another retiree who backed out as they couldn't sell their home in time to close on this one). I knew the market was going bad, but that houses in the Midwest didn't really lose value (or so I thought up until then). Also thought that retirees had the money in this world and I would be protected from harm if things got bad (boy, was I wrong on that one). We bought in a more upscale retirement community as additional insulation from any real estate market hazards (wrong again).

Our home dropped in value almost $60K in two years and hasn't gotten within $20k of its original value to date. Keep in mind that I beat the builder up on the price for over $28k when we bought it. Many of the folks here paid what you might call list price back in 2006/2007 when the builder closed out, and probably will never get close to getting their money back unless they stay for at least +/- 10 more years. One of my neighbors who was very vocal against those dumping their places - ended up going in a home with his disabled wife and let his property go - losing over $100k..

In my lifetime - I've never seen a sheriff's eviction - until moving here. This is where the sheriff puts someone's belongings out in the yard and padlocks the doors. This place is still selling foreclosures and short sales currently. When someone dies or goes to a home - the people inheriting that residence put the home on the market at a "dump-it" price as they want the money and don't want to pay the taxes or HOAs (or possible mortgage). Very hard to get home pricing up when all this is taking place. The last one never ends. Not too many homes for sale by people just wanting to move on, as the downward pressure on pricing keeps them from listing. This is an issue you need to understand before buying in a retirement community. Realtors I met don't discuss these things and people selling in retirement communities are all positive as they want to get out

We have a golf course, an indoor pool at the clubhouse, an outdoor adult pool, and a family pool. The place has all the amenities one could want in a retirement facility (pools, workout room and planned activities). Retirees all seem to want these amenities, but few actually utilize them. We swim laps three times a week and no one except the bobbing old ladies in aqua class use the pool (better not want to swim when they are in the pool). Pretty much the same for the workout room. On the other hand - can't swim laps in the outdoor pool as the summer squatters will chase you away. Can only play pool during certain weekend hours as that room is taken up by "clubs" either playing pool or cards. Golf actually is pretty much open, but slow play is the rule.

When we go for walks at night or ride our bikes during the day - hardly anyone is out, except those who walk their dogs. Kind of dead as far as neighborhoods go. You only see neighbors when their garage door opens and they are going out somewhere.

Activities are plentiful at the clubhouse, as well as organized trips. Good for those who don't want to drive and would like to socialize with others at that time.

If you want to keep old people busy in one of these places - just have them join a committee. There are more committees here than carter has liver pills, as the old saying goes. Some of them, like the architectural committee walk through your yard at least twice yearly looking for unapproved improvements to landscaping or homes (even exterior repainting must be pre-approved). I agree that there is a need for rules, but committees can be a negative factor and affect the view of these communities by realtors and potential buyers.

We only planned on staying around 5 years to watch our grandchildren grow up and then move to where it's warmer. As you can guess by my view of our current community - probably wouldn't buy in a 55+ community again. Didn't recall anyone posting on this thread about actually living in one of these communities and what all is involved (good and bad), so thought I share my thoughts. No one really discusses these issues that I'm aware of, so wanted to put our experience out there to help others evaluate if 55+ communities are for them
Wow!

Our experience in our 55+ community is the complete opposite of yours.

The seniors here are super active and out doing stuff all the time. In fact, I kind of enjoy the peace and quiet of the summer when only a 1/4 of the homeowners are in residence.

It's a post 2009 development, so I'm sure that really makes a difference.

We also live in a major snowbird area. And these are 2nd homes for many folks.

We were glad to leave our "normal" family suburb when we retired and get away from the work traffic and the constant lawn mowing noise on the weekends. It was a ghost town during the week day.
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Old 08-19-2014, 02:15 PM   #84
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What I've heard about these over-55 communities that gives me pause is that they are so much like high school. You have the kool kids and the hangers-on and the out -of-its. It's all about who went where with whom. I had enough of that as a teen to last a lifetime; I never was so happy as the year I went off to college. I'd feel more accepted and comfortable with a more heterogeneous community; I'm not a kool kid and don't aspire to be one.
No, it's not like that. You can be as involved as you want or not. Lots of broad brush painting going on in this thread.
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Old 08-19-2014, 03:18 PM   #85
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One comment I'd like to make, though: Domineering busybodies know no age limits. The HOA for our rental townhouse, which we recently sold, consisted of 3 thirty-somethings and a couple of youngish 60-year-olds. They were going to "revitalize" the HOA (their words). Quarterly walk-throughs, close-up inspections of each townhouse's front and back, were followed by threatening letters about mulching, exterior lights showing too much oxidation, front window screens not exactly matching, etc.
Hoo boy, would I ever develop an "attitude problem" with that! Yeah, I'll replace my back porch light. And then before installing it I'll give it a fresh coat of rust-colored paint. Or checkerboard orange and green.
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Old 08-19-2014, 04:09 PM   #86
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I wrote my post about living in a 55+ community for the last 7.5 years to enlighten those who don't live in one, but are considering that type of community on this forum. I just laid my observations on the line (the positives and the negatives) to give insight into what you could encounter at these type of communities. I mentioned that we live in a Midwest 55+ community - the majority of the folks I've met while living here are year-rounders and generally do not go south for the winter surprisingly (we have been wintering in Florida since retiring). A lot do travel south sometime during the winter months, but for a week maybe, and not months. The 1000+ townhomes/homes here are ideally 100% owner occupied, and may not be rented out w/o approval from the HOA. They started allowing rentals in an effort to keep the pricing on the homes from tumbling so drastically in the last great recession. There is also a recently implemented limit on how many properties may be held by any one entity to keep control of the community in the hands of the homeowners. There seemed to be a little panic and the HOA started getting in bed with the local realtors around here - promoting community wide open houses and cooperative advertising. The community has very few homes for sale currently, but the depressed housing prices from the past fire sales keep all but the "have-to" sellers away. This is going on in the majority of the 55+ communities around this area. The national builder of this community raised his pricing when he closed out this one by as much as $100k in the next one (which floundered, and still is stumbling). He is advertising new construction there "now" below resale in this community (guess he has to make a living). How would you like to have bought from him in that community before the economy fell. That community does not compare to this one (more of the builder's money went into community amenities). Our community with its great amenities will not be duplicated anytime soon.

Please understand that we do like our home and are torn between selling at a loss, or holding on to it and buying another property (Florida/Texas). We have the financial ability to just keep it and buy another. The community here is a bit trying, but we have successfully managed to adapt our lifestyle around the pitfalls of this 55+ community. Our children live in this area, and we will probably end up in this area again when we're too old to travel between two areas of the country.

Just so you know - have been evaluating Florida and Texas property for a couple of years now. We have lived in East Texas, and like it there as well. Florida has numerous issues that one should also be aware of when looking for a home. Google for maps of sinkholes in Florida. You'll want to probably avoid those areas. It's also close to impossible to get affordable hurricane insurance - let alone regular house insurance (take a hip roof over a gable, and a plus would be hurricane shutters). The place we winter at (rental) is just off the beach - rust, rot, and decay is a losing battle (townhomes/condo buildings were built in the 80's and of high quality materials). Don't ever shut your AC off when you leave for any length of time or you'll most likely face a home full of mold when you return. Florida is somewhat higher maintenance HOA wise, and the higher HOA fees reflect this fact. FYI - some communities' HOA fees include maintenance of the entire residence and the HOA fees can be over $800/mos (and HOA fees are not always advertised on websites). Florida also has enacted a law that allows HOAs to have "zero" reserves - you should check any property's HOA to see if they have adopted this rule. Some mortgage lenders won't finance a sale in a community where the HOA reserve is running a negative from projected, due to the failure of fee collections (usually from foreclosures). I mentioned that our community has a rule that prohibits an entity from owning too may residences - Florida has been in the news lately where owners are being forced out (at a loss) by builders/buyers of foreclosed properties to turn their communities into rentals....

As mentioned upfront, I'm providing information primarily relating to home ownership issues from our 7.5 year observation of our 55+ community. We've owned eight homes - one of them a townhome where I helped start up the HOA, and another regular home in an association in California. Our 55+ community has lots of 2-seater sports cars (Mercedes, Corvettes, etc.) and some customized high end golf carts, but to each his own. There are also grumpy people everywhere you go, 55+ communities don't have a lock on this scenario
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Old 08-19-2014, 04:21 PM   #87
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We developed such a horrible attitude that we finally sold just to get away from the HOA - and tenants. But we complied with all demands, as they were backed up with the threat of fines, which converted to property liens if you wanted to sell. Just didn't want to deal with that.

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Hoo boy, would I ever develop an "attitude problem" with that! Yeah, I'll replace my back porch light. And then before installing it I'll give it a fresh coat of rust-colored paint. Or checkerboard orange and green.
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Old 08-19-2014, 04:22 PM   #88
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Appreciate the insightful posts, fritz.
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Old 08-19-2014, 04:49 PM   #89
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Lots of broad brush painting going on in this thread.

Of course. This is the FIRE Forum!
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Old 08-19-2014, 05:01 PM   #90
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Fritz,

From the 10,000 ft view, which mistake do you think you made?

1. Too little research before buying and you wound up with something you weren't expecting.

2. Enough research and understanding of what you were getting into but you failed to recognize that the lifestyle wasn't for you.

Or perhaps a mix of both?

As far as selling at a loss, remember that many folks in NE Illinois who purchased in your timeframe are facing the fact that they can't recover the full purchase price of their home if they sell today. And that's true of 55+ communities, individual homes, condos, multi-family, urban, suburban, rural, etc. We've had quite a bit of price recovery here, but it's far from complete. I'd strongly advise that if your current situation isn't optimum for you, move on despite the current market value of your home. You're over 60. Your happiness at the moment is a hell of a lot more important than a few kilobux one way or the other.
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Old 08-19-2014, 05:05 PM   #91
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Lots of broad brush painting going on in this thread.
but no finger painting
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Old 08-19-2014, 05:28 PM   #92
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I appreciate your thoughts and experience also Fritz. It is very easy for me to focus on the good aspects and not think too much on the not so good aspects.

We do not have a HOA where we live and I don't think that I ever want to live where there is one. I think we will probably stay here and snowbird elsewhere in a rental.
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Old 08-19-2014, 06:43 PM   #93
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Fritz,

From the 10,000 ft view, which mistake do you think you made?

1. Too little research before buying and you wound up with something you weren't expecting.

2. Enough research and understanding of what you were getting into but you failed to recognize that the lifestyle wasn't for you.

Or perhaps a mix of both?

As far as selling at a loss, remember that many folks in NE Illinois who purchased in your timeframe are facing the fact that they can't recover the full purchase price of their home if they sell today. And that's true of 55+ communities, individual homes, condos, multi-family, urban, suburban, rural, etc. We've had quite a bit of price recovery here, but it's far from complete. I'd strongly advise that if your current situation isn't optimum for you, move on despite the current market value of your home. You're over 60. Your happiness at the moment is a hell of a lot more important than a few kilobux one way or the other.
As I stated - We've owned eight homes and three of them (including the present home) were in HOA communities. I've owned in 4 different states across the country. I'm very familiar with housing, as I've been associated with residential and commercial construction all of my career. Haven't lost money on any homes, but this one is looking like a possibility. I also stated that I reduced the price of the home from the builder by $28k. Thought this would give me an edge, should things go really bad. It was the economy that has brought about the potential for a loss - as you've stated.

What surprised me (my mistakes are listed in the second paragraph of my first post) - I always thought older folks were the ones with the money. I also thought buying in a retirement community would insulate us from any severe housing loss. Found out that wisdom doesn't always come with old age, and older people can get into just as much financial trouble as younger folks (all of their own doing). It was shocking to see how many people were foreclosed on here, and surreal to see furniture piled up on the edge of driveways. Families dumping treasured retirement homes (you should see how much old folks spent in upgrades in these homes), and you can see how this adds to the problem of depressing housing values in an upscale 55+ community.

Stated we do like our present home. it was a good value at the time, and we don't regret purchasing it - for what it is. The community amenities are the best in the area for a 55+ community. We utilize the clubhouse. pools, and golf course, but do not participate in any social activities. We find them geared mostly towards older folks and expensive for what's provided (and hate riding a bus - going back to our European tours days). We are fortunate enough to be able to sell at a loss, or hang on to it and just buy in a warmer climate - so that's a non-issue.

Mentioned that things occurring in the last 7.5 years would probably never be repeated in my lifetime, but worth sharing here to enlighten others interested in buying in 55+ communities. Would've loved to have read a couple of comments like mine before I bought this place. I probably would have passed on this place, and would now be living in Texas (the road not taken at the time).
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Old 08-19-2014, 08:30 PM   #94
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Fritz,

Your community wouldn't be about 40 miles southwest of Chicago, would it?

If it is, we have been eyeballing it.
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Old 08-20-2014, 08:43 AM   #95
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Fritz,

Your community wouldn't be about 40 miles southwest of Chicago, would it?

If it is, we have been eyeballing it.
My objective in posting, was to enlighten those considering a 55+ community on the impact of the real estate market (and a hopefully once in a lifetime great recession) on these types of communities. When older generations live in a regular neighborhood - they are more widely dispersed and their coming and going doesn't have the impact on the neighborhood as it does in 55+ communities. Relatives in charge of disposing of their elder's property (deceased, assisted living, etc.) don't have the impact on that neighborhood, as it does in a retirement community where everyone is 55+ and the property can't be sold to just anyone by covenant restrictions. 55+ communities are usually built by one developer, and offer a limited selection of housing. Lack of housing diversity, a skewing towards only one type of owner/buyer (55+), and unplanned selling scenarios (in favorable or unfavorable real estate markets) can have an impact on housing values.

I mixed in common features/identifiers of (4) different 55+ communities in the area, in a feeble attempt to mask our community. Ours is the best of the bunch and won't be duplicated anytime soon, but felt it would not be appropriate to mention our property by name. You won't go wrong buying in our community (especially with the currently depressed pricing levels), but the impact of real estate issues due to the concentration of just one type of owner/buyer in 55+ communities mentioned in the first paragraph needs to be appreciated.
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