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Retirement Communities Built for Boomers Get New Vibe

Retirees want features like outdoor cafes and pickleball courts

Couple looks at exterior of new home


En español | Housing developers are increasingly finding ways to appeal to boomers, a relatively active generation that accounts for about a third of homebuyers, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Industry publication Builder Online recently reported that this year nearly half — 44 percent — of the companies on its Builder 100 list of the biggest residential developers are constructing “active adult” communities aimed at boomers. That's up from 40 percent last year.

One example of the trend is the TRI Pointe Group of Irvine, Calif., which has six 55-and-older communities in California, Arizona, Maryland and Virginia. The company designs boomer-oriented communities based on marketing research on what buyers want for what may be their last home purchase.

"This generation of home buyers is more active than previous generations,” Linda Mamet, the company's chief marketing officer, said in an email.

TRI Pointe's target customers are big on walking, biking and socializing, so the communities include multiuse trail systems and social hubs. The homes feature open, single-story floor plans suitable for aging in place, open kitchen spaces and big backyard patios convenient for entertaining, plus master bathrooms and plenty of windows.

Builder Online reports that the new 55-plus communities tend to be smaller in scale than older retirement havens. While providing single-level homes and cafes, they accommodate activities such as pickleball and bocce, rather than feature the big golf courses and lavish country clubs of past developments.

Data compiled by the National Association of Realtors show that 18 percent of 54- to -63-year-old homebuyers and 19 percent of 64- to -72-year-old buyers go for new homes, compared with 14 percent of homebuyers overall.