I believe you're right about interest varying by region. I see you're from New Jersey, so you're probably acutely aware of the surplus of age-restricted communities there.
In the article by Erik Ortiz, referenced below, there's a quote from housing expert Jeffrey Otteau that "retirees here are choosing to move to lower-cost states, leaving a glut of age-restricted housing in the Garden State equivalent to a 16-year supply , , , ," That is a huge inventory to work through, and I would imagine a lot of those communities may be converted to non-age-restricted.
Here in my area (east central coast of Florida), we have quite a few of the over-55 communities. I would have to say there's still a demand for them at this point. Florida has traditionally been a destination for retirees, so the fact that we have a certain proportion of these communities is not surprising. They serve a lot of needs.
However, that being said, I wonder if we'll see the over-55 communities evolve into something else. You could say there's been something of an evolution already.
Decades ago, many of these communities were basically mobile home parks, with maybe a pool, where you bought the trailer and rented the land. These were followed by trailer and manufactured home communities where the owners owned the land as well. Often, these communities were created in a terrific location--riverfront, for example--and had numerous amenities. Or you might find a community of small duplexes near a golf course, with each half a separate property. You were "buying a lifestyle" and the house itself was secondary. This is how things have developed up to this point in my area.
The real advantage to this housing has always been affordability, and I believe, because of that, there will continue to be a demand in the short term. However, the oldest of the "baby boomers" turn 65 next year, and this group has always done things differently. I could be wrong, but I just can't picture "boomers" moving into the traditional over-55 community in large numbers.
Since we have requirements for all new developments to include affordable housing in their mix of homes, I wouldn't be surprised to see "boomers" moving into the new developments instead. Unfortunately, right now, developers here usually make their lowest priced housing 2- or even 3-story townhomes, since it's an easy way to keep their costs down. I really wish some of them would build "Katrina cottages" or other small single-story homes that are both attractive and affordable, and could appeal to the next generation of retirees.
For what it's worth, I really believe that living in a community with a mix of people of different ages could be the key for the "boomers" to staying young in heart, mind, and body.
Maggie Hawk, REALTOR
Watson Realty Corp.