From the beginning, the point of master-planned communities has been to meet the needs of specific demographics, providing a superior quality of life by designing services and community supports to help provide more than just a space to live.
For the last couple of decades, communities planned by entrepreneurs like Roger Osteen of Jacksonville have catered to everyone from retiring snowbirds to growing families who want to know they are living in a safe and friendly environment.
Many in the real estate industry have questioned how this community structure will interact with the needs of millennials as they grow older and whether they will become a relic of a different age of real estate development.
Speculation isn’t needed, though. The oldest members of that generation are already showing a strong demand for planned-style communities between the trends toward luxury apartment complexes and condominiums. It’s not a matter of whether this generation will seek out master-planned communities in great numbers, it’s about which ones, and how those communities are meeting their needs.
One strong trend in the new generation of home buyer is a preference for connection. It’s no longer just about a good school and access to businesses and dining. Younger home buyers look at proximity to cultural centers and activities they are interested in, as well as commute times and public transit.
The original millennial home-buyers who set the expectation and proved the demand with regard to planned urban housing are in their forties today, and as many of them are considering second homes, demand is picking up in the suburbs. At the same time, many communities are finding aging boomers are not moving into communities built for retired people who are downsizing.
Instead, they are often choosing to stay put, which strains the expectations of communities planned two or three decades ago. Experienced community planning specialists like Roger O
- Existing communities are pivoting services and policies with respect to aging populations, using community boards as guidance
- Residents are communicating more directly with their communities, especially those with long-established ties
- New opportunities to expand amenities and serve a wider base are emerging, providing opportunities to revitalize older planned communities
- Developers planning new communities are pivoting toward younger families rather than retirement communities
The generation coming of age to buy family homes today is opting for the suburbs where and when they are an option, so those who have experience planning communities around those needs and demands are finding their skill set is not as dated as they were told it was becoming a decade ago, and that’s providing this part of the housing sector with experienced guidance through this phase of housing demand.
What To Take Away From the Trends
National trends are not evenly true across the country, so you need to take them with a grain of salt. At the same time, though, they do reflect real experiences across the country, which means you can’t dismiss them entirely. Often, what is not happening in one area yet will be within two or three years.
If you’re planning an investment in a new home or starting a real estate project, the surprising trends that are emerging should inform your decisions about the likely changes to come within years, not months.
Following what is happening on the ground remains the best way to make decisions, but using these trends as part of your projections will help you determine when a change in demand is about to come, so you can take advantage of the opportunity.