Every week, we ask an Atlanta real estate professional for their thoughts on the top trends in Atlanta real estate.
This week, we talked with Kris Johnson, the senior real estate specialist at Windsong Properties in Powder Springs. A resident of Cobb County for more than 25 years, Kris sells exclusively at Windsong communities in Northwest Atlanta forn active adult homebuyers.
Atlanta Agent (AA): What features are the most popular in the active adult new construction marketplace?
Kris Johnson (KJ): What our buyer is looking for specifically is one-level living; they’re trying to get out of that large, square footage, and they want to downsize the maintenance of the home, the upkeep and the carrying cost. They’re looking for square footage anywhere from 1,700 to 2,500 on one level, and they’re looking for accessible designs that allow them to age in place – things like wide doorways, step-less entries and lever-style hardware. So they are really thinking proactively on what the next few years will be like for them.
My builder, who only builds exclusively for the active adult market, has done a lot of research to determine what active adult consumers value and where they are going to place their money. Now, those are things that are fairly static, and those consumers are only going to move for a couple of reasons – to get those new features the way they want them, rather than stay and remodel their current home; and to be closer to family members as they age. For example, we have a lot of people who are coming to us from the North/Northeast who are trying to get away from that weather and the tax burden.
AA: Where do you see demand heading for the active adult market?
KJ: The traditional active adult concept was attached living – condominiums, duplexes, quads, things like that – and many people thought that was the only option they had when they were downsizing. The demand is now more of a balance, with consumers looking for detached homes that have some outdoor private lawns and private spaces for them. They are looking for the blend of their social connections in the neighborhood through a common social clubhouse, as well as maintenance.
Between now and 2030, the main buying population is the active adult, Baby Boomer population; they don’t have to move, because it’s not usually related to a job or a transfer, so they are really particular. They move only when they find the perfect thing, so they are very demanding and harder to build for, but I think it’s the most rewarding thing I’ve done.
AA: What kind of changes are you anticipating with the active adult demographic?
KJ: What’s interesting is, when earlier generations retired, it was more a matter of getting to the finish line. The mentality was, “I’ve worked, I’ve put in my time, and now, I’m just going to retire and enjoy my retirement location,” wherever that may be, though traditionally it was in Florida. And they stayed put.
Our active adult buyer today are Baby Boomers, and from the time they were teenagers, it was very about them, and they’re retirement is very much that way too. They want communities where there is a lot of activity. They are very social, and they want to be outside, to walk, to ride their bikes through trails and community gardens. They are looking for that lock-and-leave community that is going to be self-sustaining, so they can take off, travel and do all the things that they want to do. They’re not going to be the retirees that stay at home.