Reprinted from the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014. By Lori Johnson
Agents Offer Advice For Senior Buyers
Additional storage and outdoor living rooms are popping up more in active adult communities as real estate agents Ben Staten and Kathy Kirby Seger work with downsizing and retired buyers. Since 2013, the Associate Brokers with RE/MAX Around Atlanta have completed 50 contracts with senior buyers from the Northeast, Wisconsin, Michigan, Chicago, Florida and existing metro Atlanta residents.
Staten and Seger chatted about trends in 55-and-up neighborhoods and tips for buyers in 2015.
Q: What’s something new you’re seeing in active adult communities?
Seger: The biggest things we’re seeing builders starting to do is putting bonus space upstairs, whether it’s finished rooms or storage. Buyers are enamored with the storage. They don’t want to climb the pull-down stairs to get the Christmas decorations out.
Staten: Several of the builders, particularly in detached homes, are offering extended garages. They will kick out the garage 3 feet so that you have extra storage. We’re seeing larger kitchen islands that are more gathering spaces. We’re seeing more covered porches. And they’re willing to give up some indoor space to have that outdoor space. Builders are trending away from sunrooms and more to the covered porch/screened porch.
Q: What’s a choice buyers are making more often in the layouts?
Staten: We’re seeing a lot of folks giving up the tub, if the builder offers that option. Instead they’re either getting a larger walk-in shower or larger closet space.
Q: What aging-in-place elements are common?
Staten: Some builders are offering step-less showers. Quite a few builders are offering raised toilets, raised vanities. They are typically offering grab bar options. If buyers are not ready for grab bar, then they are doing the bracing for later on. Builders are making those conveniences – the seated showers, grab bars – much more elegant looking. If you went into a home 15-20 years ago that had grab bars, you knew there was an elderly person living there. It’s not as obvious today that those are homes built for seniors.
Q: How are buyers upgrading the builder’s standard features?
Staten: The screened porch, extra patio space, extra storage. Almost without an exception, someone building is adding new (spray foam insulation). They are looking to keep their utility bills low.
Q: What are your tips for downsizing?
Seger: Figure out your “must take” pieces of furniture and where they will fit in your new home. Then, give family members a chance to look at other pieces. As you pack, designate a box for each child, grandchild and siblings for special photos or other keepsakes.