When researching for a new home, retirement communities can be a great way to meet new friends, form new routines, and explore new opportunities. But at the same time, not everyone realizes just what it means to buy in an age-restricted development. Before falling in love with a property, homeowners may want to keep the following tips in mind.
Talk to People
Homeowners should, but unfortunately, few homeowners do actually read over all the rules of the HOA of the community they choose to live in. It's far easier (and usually far more effective) to just strike up conversations with people who already live there. They'll let you know what the day-in, day-out experience are really like.
Some communities are fairly restrictive about what homeowners are allowed to do. Owners may not be able to plant certain types of invasive trees or paint their home certain colors. Other communities are quite lax, allowing the homeowners more freedom to do as they please. Potential buyers should have a good idea of how they'll be treated when they live in the community, so they can decide if the benefits outweigh any drawbacks.
There are a few specific details that all owners should know before they sign any official paperwork:
- Age limits: Homeowners may assume that 55 is the age limit of retirement communities, but it can go as high as 62 in some areas. In addition, some owners are might be discouraged from having their children or grandchildren stay or live with them over an extended period of time.
- Medical care: If medical care is administered on-site, check the quality of the facilities. If it isn't, buyers should note how far away the nearest hospital is and what support they'll receive to arrange for ongoing or emergency care.
- Activity calendar: Some communities will center their focus around the nearby golf course while others will have a more varied calendar. Buyers should check the calendar before they may any snap decisions.
Scope the Property
Most homeowners will let potential buyers know what they're getting into, but not everyone will be as forthcoming. For example, maybe they won't advertise that the elevator in one of the club rooms is 50 years old. That's why buyers need to inspect the general property by choosing and then hiring an indpendent home inspector and draw their own conclusions. If the flowers are dying or the paint job in the lobby could use an update, it could be a sign that property maintenance is lacking.
Study the Paperwork
Many real estate experts recommend hiring an attorney to examine everything from the local taxes to the HOA fees. If there are any red flags, they'll be able to point them out before they escalate. For example, some buyers are required to purchase an equity stake in their property. They should understand the terms of that stake before they buy.
Consider the Time
All Spring Hill home sellers become a little nervous when they sell outside of the busy season. Low season is usually the wintertime for northern states and early summer for southern states. Sellers who are forced to sell during the off-season are more likely to negotiate with the buyer. This is true of any neighborhood, but it may be especially true in retirement communities—especially if the community isn't in exceptionally popular demand.
Understanding more about specific retirement communities is a good way for a buyer to avoid getting into hot water. Because each HOA has its own rules and priorities, buyers should never assume that one rule is transferrable to the next property (or vice versa).
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