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Maryland is rich with "active adult" communities those neighborhoods specifically designed for the 55 and older crowd.
These baby boomers and older folks want much different things in their homes than they did when they were 30 or 40. And “active adults” of today are much different from those in the past.
Surprisingly, while many of these active adults are moving into smaller homes, they don't want to think of it as that. They want the same amenities they have gotten used to says Michael Hamby, who has sold several homes in Heritage Harbour in Annapolis, a neighborhood geaturing single family, townhomes and condo;s that are $200,000 up to $500,000.
They want open floor plans for entertaining, an outdoor living area in either a courtyard or a patio, high ceilings and modern touches.
"It's got to look like a magazine," says Hamby. "They want it to look current. They are coming out of homes they've lived in for 20 years, and they don't want it to look old."
Older buyers also want value, high-end materials, energy efficiency and high-speed Internet.
They see this house as their last home, Hamby says. "They know what they want: custom cabinetry, specialty lighting, granite countertops ... it reflects their personality, not the builder's personality."
While many buyers have given up on the formal living room, some still want the formal dining room for entertaining, says Hamby.
Most buyers are choosing floor plans with two or three bedrooms and a study. It's big enough to have children and grandchildren visit but not too big to maintain.
The study is especially important for the large percentage of the “active adult” buyers who are still working.
Older buyers don't want gigantic kitchens, but ones they still can comfortably cook in for one or two people on a regular basis and for guests on occasion. Hamby says he's had to rethink what his buyers want in a kitchen. Buyers want smaller appliances and a smaller space than originally planned, but they did want a breakfast bar, cabinetry with handles instead of knobs, a microwave they can reach, a kitchen that won't require a lot of bending. They wanted a washer and dryer close to the kitchen, and they wanted a wet bar.
In the bathrooms, almost no one is putting in traditional tubs in an active adult community. Instead, buyers are choosing an oversized spa shower in place of a tub, or they are asking for one of the new walk-in tubs with a door that closes.
Steps are out. Most active adult communities focus on one-story homes or at least have the master bedroom, study and a second bedroom on the main floor.
When buyers are looking for an active adult community, they are looking at amenities, something that is key to selling the community, he says. Buyers across the active adult communities want walking paths and access to golfing, pools and a built-in social life.
"They are not sitting on the front porch," Hamby says. "They are active. They want mah jongg and bridge, a workout facility."
Many are looking at homes they are going to live in part-time — during the winter if they are from the East Coast or the Midwest or as their home base while they travel the world. They want homes they can lock and go. This often means a community that is gated or with attention to security and a community where the outdoor maintenance is included.