a House, a Home, a Community

There are lots of ‘houses’ on the market, and until you move in and make it yours it’s not a home… But a community is something special.

A community is where people come together. It may be because of where you live, what you like to do, things you are interested in and more.

This week I experienced community in my neighborhood. One of my neighbors had a serious accident. She is currently in the neurology ward at the hospital. Her family has come to town to sit by her side while she heals; and our neighborhood has come together to take care of feeding the family. It is a simple thing, providing a meal for others; it wasn’t just one person stepping up or volunteering to help. Everyone who knows her is helping.

Finding a house is easy. Having community is something that you have to participate in to have.

What is the story with 55+ how old do you really have to be?

What is the story with some of the 55 plus, Active Adult Communities allowing sales to people who are 45 and others being rigid on the 55+?

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in many things including age, of the lease or sale of residential property. One of the exceptions to this law is housing for “older persons”. In this usage, “Older Persons” refer to a person 55 years of age or older. The law has been added to, refined, altered and amended over the years. I am not a lawyer, but the way I have been updated on this is that in order to be exempt from the Fair Housing Act, a housing facility or community (defined as any dwelling or group of dwelling units governed by a common set of rules, regulations or restrictions) must have 80% of the occupied units occupied by at least one occupant who is 55 years of age or older. The facility must “publish and follow policies which support this exemption”. At one time the facility had to have “ significant facilities and services specifically designed to meet the physical or social needs of older persons.’’ That regulation has been changed and the facilities and services are no longer required.

This 80% also includes occupants who are present only part time (snowbirds) and rentals, it is not restricted to principal residences. The 20% remaining may be occupied by persons under 55. It is required that every 2 years the facility report to the government with accurate numbers, supported by a variety of identification methods, that they have met the 80% rule. This count is carefully monitored by the communities. To lose this exemption is major. The law governing the remaining 20% is not always clear and seems to be further regulated by the individual community rules. The law includes exemptions for heirs and caregivers and persons who maintain the community to be under 55. It is to fill this 20% that you see the 40+ and 45+ advertisements. Only a carefully monitored number under 55 can permitted to own or lease. The lower ages are most often seen in new construction where the percentage can be overseen more timely. Brand new construction must have at least 25% of the units occupied before the law kicks in so they have a bit of leeway to get their communities started.

Risks to living in a 55+ community…

Risks to living in a 55+ community are not as has been recently reported, the risk is not having a surviving spouse less than 55 years old having to sell, but grandchildren!

  • A recent article in the Arizona Republic “ Homebuilders pin hopes on retiring Baby Boomers” mistakenly wrote that “ …if the husband died before the wife turned 55, she would most likely be forced to sell the home and would not be allowed to remain there alone.”

The surviving spouse if under 55 is covered by the HUD regulation of 80/20.  Only 80% of the residents need be 55 or more.  The remaining 20% is designed to cover the heirs. That 80% is carefully monitored and checked every 2 years.  To drop under that 80% is a fearful thing in these communities and puts them at risk for losing their Fair Housing exemption and turning overnight into a multigenerational community.

The true risk in purchasing a home in a 55+ community is grandchildren!   Two scenarios create the risk.  The first is today’s economy and high unemployment rate.   Adult children are moving home to Mom and Dad and bringing the grandchildren with them.   The fine print in the 55+ communities HOA’s is that NO ONE under 18 years old can reside for more than a limited number of days.   So Mom and Dad may have to move out of their 55+ resort community and into a multigenerational one! The second risk factor is again Grandchildren.  Adult children move out of state for one reason or another and take those grandchildren with them.  Grandma & Grandpa do not want them to be so far away and choose to leave their 55+ lifestyle and follow the grandchildren.

Dream Big with Trilogy Vistancia and Trilogy Encanterra

Do you already know about Trilogy Vistancia. Trilogy Vistancia is an active adult community located in Peoria and is part of the larger master planned community of Vistancia. The gated community is beautiful and offers a country club lifestyle with all the goodies you would ever desire plus.

Trilogy Encanterra is an all aged country club community located in San Tan Valley with a section reserved for those who are 55 and up. Not yet 55?   Then this may be a wonderful community to choose.

Trilogy has a preview for preferred clients this week they are offering big savings (50% off the upgrade/options added to the homes) on their currently completed, move in ready, designer homes.  It will be advertised to the general public this weekend. So if you are looking for great savings on a move in designer home this could be the perfect opportunity to Dream Big with Trilogy at either location.

In Trilogy Vistancia these are the designer homes they have available.

  • Libertas Model – 2107 sq ft with the casita- discounted $58,888
  • Serenitas Model – 2092 – 2334 sq ft  – discounted $60,687
  • Aurora  Model – 2423 sq ft  –  discounted 139,875

Give us a call and we can get out to see these homes together.

An Arizona Gem, Arizona Traditions

Arizona Traditions entry

One of our favorite communities is Arizona Traditions.  It is one of the smaller newer, gated, active adult communities located in the north west area of the Phoenix Valley.

One of the reasons we like Arizona Traditions is because each time we are there, we see people gathered.  Playing soft ball, around the pool, or walking and talking on the streets or cheering their neighbors at a Pickle ball competition .

This active adult community has less than 1800 homes and still has an 18 hole golf course, and a 24,000 square foot community center, with everything you would expect to find and do.

Surprises at Sun City West

After picking up the key for a client at their new home in Sun City West, I headed over to the R.H. Johnson Recreation Center to take some photos.  The R.H. Johnson Rec Center is the largest facility in Sun City West and I was amazed to see how much there is available.

Sun City West_021Each ‘room’ was devoted to one club/craft/interest and they were VERY well set up.  The Weavers Guild had several different types of looms, and knowledgeable people to help anyone interested get started weaving.   There was a room for the Pottery makers with kilns, wheels and more.  Sewing rooms with really high tech machines.  Metal working rooms loaded with all you need to make beautiful jewelry.  I was amazed at the diversity in creative opportunities that were waiting to be explored.

Sun City West_115I realize now that any time I have a client interested in Sun City West, the spot I will be taking them is to the Gift Shop.  The Gift Shop has only items made by the residents of Sun City West in all of their clubs and groups.  It is the fastest way to show someone all the things people are doing in this Very Active Adult Community.  (check out the jewelry counters, beautiful hand made items at a fraction of the cost)

So if your either looking for a community where you will never get board, or looking for the perfect gift, Sun City West and their Gift Shop are must see locations.

The Sun Cities in the Valley of the Sun

There are now 6 Sun Cities in and around the Valley of the Sun.

The first Sun City by Del Webb was one of the first Active Adult Communities in Arizona.. His first community was built in Tucson in 1948.  Sun City in Surprise was opened in 1960.  It had 25,000 people show up for the opening weekend.  With 11 golf courses and 7 swimming pools and a club for every activity you can imagine, it grew to 26,000 homes in the 18 years before it was completed. Due to their proximity to the freeways and Phoenix itself, as well as the super low real estate taxes many of the homes are being remodeled and updated.

Sun City  was so successful that additional land was purchased and Sun City West evolved.  It opened in 1978. Not quite the size of Sun City, but still boasting 9 golf courses and 6 pools. The expanded amenities and activities held the interest of the residents of the 17,000 homes.

Del Web expanded the theme of Active Adult Living to include shopping, churches and restaurants and even a hospital within the boundaries of the development. One need have only a golf cart for transportation.  It took another 19 years, until 1997 for Del Webb to reach sell out of Sun City West.

In 1996 construction began on Sun City Grand just to the west and south of Sun City West, with Grand Avenue (Rt. 60) being a divider.  This Active Adult Community was to have a greater range of home sizes.  It was smaller with only 10,000 homes, 5 pools and 3 golf courses.   The community was sold out in 2004.

Corte Bella was the last of the Sun Cities in the cluster forming the NW corner of the Phoenix Valley. It is considered part of Sun City West, although separated by walls.  It is an  upscale, private, gated golf course community with only 1600 homes and a single pool.  The last new build was sold in 2007.

The 5th Sun City is Sun City Festival, located about 30 miles west of Surprise and the 4 preceding Del Webb communities.  It is just north and west of the White Tank Mountains.  Del Webb has perfected the art of Active Adult Communities and this is reputed to be their best yet.  Within a natural unspoiled desert environment, it is likened to the original Sun City 50 years ago. Sun City Festival will have 7200 homes, has one 18 hole golf course with another planned.  The amenities are superb and commercial development is certain to follow.  The project opened in 2006 and is expected to be built  out by 2016.  This Sun City combines the expertise of Pulte in their successful multigenerational communities and Del Webb’s superb active adult specialization.

This combination of multigenerational and active adult communities is a popular concept and allows families to be in close proximity to their retirees while having separate community amenities.  Del Webb and Pulte repeated this in the most recent development, Sun City Anthem in Florence, about 55 miles southeast of central Phoenix.  This community opened in 2006 and is expected to reach  build out by 2014.

The Active Adult Community of Trilogy Vistancia

Recently I did a final walk thru with clients of mine.  They love their home and the whole experience of building their home.  Check it out….

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