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Options Please!

Options Please!

The past few years have been challenging for the Real Estate market. First we had a long recovery from the recession. Many people were under water on their mortgage and would have needed to bring money to the table in order to sell. Now home prices are finally up and we have little-to-no-inventory!!! As an agent trying to keep the market moving, I’ve been interviewing and meeting older home owners who say they would like to move, but don’t feel they have many options. I have to say, I completely sympathize.

Some feel stuck between a rock and a hard place. The kids are grown, the bedrooms are empty and the dining room is only used for holidays. If the kids have moved out of state, then it seems even less sensible to keep a 3000 square foot home for two people who can barely get up the steps! Why keep paying for the lawn service, heating oil and maintenance on a house that is just too big? Nostalgia? Sure, that’s part of it, but what about the issue of trying to decide where to move to?

If you are home owner of a large single, it’s not that easy to find a small ranch in the same area. And let’s face it, most 55+ Communities are either townhomes or condos that can be pretty pricey. Quite often, the townhomes are more expensive than the single homes these folks would need to sell in order to move. Now I’m not saying the amenities in the 55+ Communities aren’t awesome, but many folks I’ve met don’t want to move into them for several reasons.

Most Active Adult, 55+ Communities in Bucks County are townhomes and condos, so generally speaking, there is much less privacy than owning a single family. Gardening, sunbathing, enjoying the quiet, aren’t so secluded anymore. Many communities restrict privacy fences because it takes away from the uniformity and general look of the community.

And then there are all those restrictions!! Of course you can’t repaint the front door, no matter how much you hate hunter green, because that color change will ruin the entire look of the neighborhood. Ok then, sorry I asked!! I’m not even going to go into the pettiness that can go on in the board meetings because I’m trying to keep this under 1000 words. But I will say that I didn’t realize how passionate and obstinate people can be about windows and doors and garden rocks. For goodness sake. Needless to say, I’ve heard some unbelievable stories!!!

My grandmom is an original owner in Levittown and although I think her house is entirely too small to have raised six kids in, I do think her house is the perfect size for many of the people I’ve spoken to. One floor living, 1500 square feet, give or take, and less than a quarter acre of land to maintain. Sounds pretty reasonable for a widow who just wants to go to church and the grocery store and Marshalls occasionally! But where can we find those ranch homes?

Fairless Hills, Levittown and Warminster have neighborhood after neighborhood with houses that size. The objection I hear from my clients, is that they like the area where they raised their family and don’t want to go far. When you’ve lived somewhere for fifty years, the last thing you want to do, is figure out how to get around a new town.

But even with a smaller lot and house, there is still snow to shovel and lawns to maintain. That’s why I think we need more communities like Buckingham Springs. It’s beautifully maintained, with cute little modular homes that are very reasonably priced, most under $200,000. The residents still enjoy pride of ownership, and there aren’t as many restrictions on house color and garden size and whatnot, as you see in other planned communities. There is a monthly maintenance fee that could be considered high at just under $500/month, but the taxes are dirt cheap, under $3,000. Keep in mind, you don’t own the land in there, just the house. That’s why it’s a bit cheaper than other parts of Buckingham.

When Council Rock was thinking about closing some of the elementary schools, I was seriously considering going to the Planning Committee and pleading my case. I think downsizers should have more options! Being able to stay in the same general area could be less traumatic and certainly less expensive if we had a community like that. If folks could sell their big houses and move less than a mile away to something they could more easily manage, maybe it would free up some of the inventory for growing families.

Well, now that all the schools are staying open, except for Richboro Middle, there probably isn’t much of a chance for that to come to fruition. But I still think it would be a good idea. Yes, it’s true, you can pack a lot more people into a condominium than into modular homes, but that type of living isn’t for everyone.

Moving at any age can be very difficult. And seniors who want to maintain their independence are especially vulnerable. We need to come up with more choices for our aging population that will enable them to enjoy their lives wherein they can maintain their privacy and retire comfortably, plus keep the market moving.

I’m always looking for innovative ways to serve my clients, so if you have any ideas you’d like to share, I’d love to hear them!! Thanks!

Suzanne can be reached at:
Bus: 215-860-9300 • Cell: 267-243-8487
Suzanne.Gwilliam@FoxRoach.com

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uptightsuburbanite1@theuptightsuburbanite.com

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