Is a 55-Plus Community a Good Idea?

I’m always asked “is it a good idea to purchase a home in a 55-plus community? I hear that they are difficult to sell and don’t retain their value.”

In some ways, buying a home in a retirement community is like any other home purchase. But in other ways, it’s not. Here are a few tips.

As with any home, it’s going to depend on supply and demand, the specific community and the individual house.

Fortunately, checking historic prices is relatively easy to do. If you’re looking at a house, search the county records online, see what it’s sold for in the past, and get an idea of whether the trend is up or down.

One of the main things that drives price appreciation in any kind of housing is an expanding demand with a limited supply. Is the population of the area increasing? See a lot of building going on? These are good signs.

And, before you buy, be sure to check any selling restrictions. Some communities force you to use their real estate agents. Others may prohibit putting signs in the yard. Many will require your buyer to be screened for age, finances and health before you can sell to them. In short, before you buy, see what the deal is if you should decide to sell.

Other tips:

  • Check the taxes. Some states, like Washington, don’t have state income taxes. But they do have high property tax rates.
  • See what’s going on. When you retire, you’ve got more time on your hands. What will your community provide to occupy you?
  • Research the rules. You know your community has age restrictions, but that could be the tip of the iceberg. Does it allow pets? Smoking a cigar outdoors? On-street parking? Talking on your balcony after 10 p.m.? You may be amazed by the restrictions you encounter.

Bottom line? While buying a home in a 55-plus community can be like buying a home anywhere, there are differences. As I’m fond of saying, always do checks before writing them.

Michelle Dux, DeTray’s Custom Housing Consultant

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