Most 55+ communities boast that yard maintenance is included. Terrific – but’s that’s just the beginning! To truly attract the 55+ buyer, low-maintenance must extend beyond the yard to the entire home – outside and in! I think the majority of homebuyers can agree that less maintenance is preferable than more, but this is particularly important in 55+ design. For one, it means less time and money spent on repairs and upkeep, but it also plans ahead for those who would like to age in place.
As we age, we become less agile and mobile. Much as we hate to admit it, we’re not 25 anymore! Perhaps it’s the nagging lower back pain, a bum knee or diminished core strength. These common ailments eventually make it harder and, in some cases, downright dangerous to do the things needed to keep up their residence. It’s not fun, but we can make it less taxing for the homeowner.
Let’s start outside and make our way in. The first thing often overlooked is the roof. It’s also the last place you want someone with diminished balance to be. We all know someone who thinks they can still do what they used to do when they were twenty, climbing up and jumping off of ladders until they find out the hard way that their balance and joints aren’t what they used to be. Designing a roof that avoids crickets and places to collect debris and leaves is a must. Gutters with leaf shields can be helpful as well.
The good news is there are a ton of low-maintenance building materials readily available at any price point: Pre-painted polypropylene shutters, cellular PVC trim, elastomeric paints and ceramic coatings, cementitious siding, engineered stone veneers, synthetic wood decking – all designed to last and look good overtime.
Moving inside, there are definitely some do’s and don’ts when it comes to finish selections. You may love the look of a wood floor but talk about high maintenance - scratches, heel dents and swelling when it gets wet. Instead, consider a laminate floor or porcelain wood-look tile. In the kitchen, consider a solid-surface counter top instead of granite, which can chip, crack and is porous and therefore can be stained. In the shower, think big – as in large wall tile. The larger the tile, the less grout needed!
Even the most low-maintenance home needs to be kept clean. My favorite cleaning solution is to include central vacuum with the dust pan feature built into the base board. Simply sweep the dirt to it and it sucks it up without having to bend down! It's the little things that make the biggest impact...
When thinking about using low-maintenance to attract active adult homebuyers, go beyond the yard and think through the entire purchase. Include things that their current home lacks and train your sales staff to help these buyers understand how these features work to make life better for them.