If you’re considering buying a new home or unit in a lifestyle community or high-rise, congratulations – you’re about to discover why this type of residential community has become one of the fastest growing sectors of the housing market. And when you consider what lifestyle communities have to offer, it’s no surprise – after all, their residents enjoy liveable floorplans, desirable lifestyle amenities and services, social events and programming, special interest clubs and many other benefits that appeal to target buyers of various ages, incomes and demographics.
There are many types, sizes and varieties of lifestyle communities to choose from, and as interest from homebuyers grows, developers and home builders are creating new ones to meet the demand.  If you’re a prospective buyer and don’t know where to begin, we can help. We’ve compiled five important factors to consider to help you narrow down your choices and find the right lifestyle community to meet your needs.
  1. Consider the costs. No surprise here -- home prices are the biggest decision driver for many people.  But it’s important to consider not just the selling price of a particular home or unit, but also, how much it would cost to live there. Start with your budget – or if you don’t have one, make one – that way, you can decide if a house or unit you can afford has a cost of living that falls comfortably within your means. Consider expenses such as HOA dues or condo fees, property taxes, cost of amenities, water, electricity, cable and insurance, and don’t forget living expenses like groceries, transportation, entertainment, parking and other relevant costs. 
  2. Consider the location.  Location, location, location.  It’s certainly key for many homebuyers, who may want to live in the heart of downtown, overlooking the beach, or closer to family, friends, work or certain schools.  Many people also look for proximity to public transportation, grocery stores, pharmacies, doctor’s offices, hospitals and other important considerations.  If geographic desirability and convenience are primary motivators for you, you’ll of course want to start with location – and perhaps even end with it.  However, if you have some flexibility as to your future zip code, you can also consider some of the other factors we’ve included to make the best overall choice. 
  3. Consider the type of community.  Is your heart set on a high-rise building?  Are you over the age of 55?  Are you looking for a mixed-age community that appeals to people of all ages?  There’s a lifestyle community for you.  In addition, many newer buildings and communities offer updated floorplan designs that fit the tastes and needs of today’s homebuyers.  For example, some active adult communities offer home designs suited to the current or future needs of 55 or better homeowners, such as one-story floorplans and/or wider doorways and lower sinks to accommodate walkers and wheelchairs.
  4. Consider the amenities.  Think about the quality of life you enjoy – or would like to.  Lifestyle communities offer a wide selection of lifestyle amenities, services, programs, classes and clubs that appeal to interests and hobbies of both target homebuyers and current residents.  Popular community amenities include clubhouses, swimming pools, fitness centers, front desk and concierge services, yoga classes, roving security patrols, tennis courts, golf courses, hiking, biking and walking trails, pickleball courts, entertainment, Wi-Fi cafes, art galleries, wine tasting, movie and travel clubs, community parties and social events, and much more.  Many communities even have an on-site Lifestyle Director to develop a rapport with residents and plan community events and programs to meet their needs.  With a little due diligence, you can find a lifestyle community that offers an ideal combination of amenities and leisure programs for you.
  5. Consider the management.  Whether a community is self-managed or professionally managed, it’s important to make sure it is well-managed – that means financially sound, well-maintained and operating smoothly.  Does the Board work well together for the good of the community?  If the community is professionally managed, does the management company have experience with lifestyle communities? 
A good community association management company will add value to the community and enhance the quality of life of its residents.  How? By enforcing the HOA’s rules, by-laws and CC&Rs (Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions), maintaining and ensuring quality service and amenities, managing and overseeing finances, operations, maintenance and vendors and more.  For insights and feedback, speak to Board members, residents and the community association manager. 
So if you’re considering buying a home in a Lifestyle community, you have many communities to choose from – and many options to consider.  It may seem overwhelming, but the good news is that with a little research and advance planning, you’ll undoubtedly find a Lifestyle community that fits your needs and budget, and has the right amenities, programs, services and other options to suit your current and future needs.  For more information on lifestyle communities, contact FirstService Residential.
Wednesday February 03, 2016