With relatively low property taxes, reasonably priced homes and an abundant supply of sunshine, Las Vegas makes many retirees' short list of cities to consider calling home. Developers have met the demand for a place to retire by building more than 15 age-restricted communities across the Vegas Valley. Age-restricted communities, also known as age-qualified or active retirement communities, provide a variety of amenities from golf to knitting clubs and require that at least one resident be a certain age, usually 55 and older.
"There is quite a wide range of choices for people, depending on their needs," says Ray Glasser, agent with Summit Properties and partner agent with 55places.com, a website featuring information about active adult communities, including reviews.
According to Glasser, buying a home in an age-restricted community is very similar to buying any other home, but with so many choices, knowing where to start can be overwhelming. Some of Las Vegas' top real estate agents offer this advice for finding your perfect place to retire.
Know what you're looking for.
"Active retirement communities are not for everybody," says Heidi Watt, a broker-salesperson and partner with Home Realty Center who has also earned the National Association of Realtors' Seniors Real Estate Specialist designation.
As with any home purchase, when you begin your search for a retirement home you should know your must-haves.
According to Watt, one crucial question is, "Is this going to be an interim move for the next few years, or are you looking for a home where you will be able to live out the rest of your healthy life?" The answer to this question can help you determine if certain things, such as accessibility, are important. Other things to consider include your ideal home size and your desired amenities. "Some people still want to live in a two-story home. Age-restricted communities are typically single-story homes," Watt says.
The size of the community typically affects the number of activities and amenities offered. Factors that could completely rule out certain communities include whether you want a guard-gated development, an indoor pool or access to a golf course. Only certain developments offer these features.
Also, the other occupants of your home can influence your decision. "If someone is going to have a grandchild [living with them full time], that child is probably not going to be happy in an age-restricted community where there are no kids their age," Watt says.
Get to know the city.
"When I get contacted by people who are just beginning to think about retirement, I encourage people to come here, spend a couple of days with me, tour various communities and figure out if the Las Vegas area is for them," Glasser says.
According to Watt, in addition to what is inside the community, buyers should familiarize themselves with what is around each community. "A big draw is what can you do outside of the community," she says. Being close to a particular church might be important, and proximity to a hospital could also be a factor. For example, a retired veteran who wants easy access to the new veterans hospital should consider the east or north side of town.
Understand the costs.
The cost of a home in an age-qualified community varies widely. From a $220,000 town house to an $800,000 home on a golf course with views of the Strip, there's a property for almost every budget. If buying a home isn't feasible, Watt says there are also homes available for rent in retirement communities.
In addition to the price of the home, you'll also pay homeowners association, or HOA, fees ranging from $50 to $225 per month, according to Glasser. The fee varies based on the number and quality of amenities, and it doesn't include property maintenance, such as lawn care.
Be ready for a competitive market.
"A lot of people buying in age-restricted communities are buying with cash," Watt says. "[People] will bid above list price to get the home because they want to live there the rest of their lives, and if they are paying a little bit above current market value, it's OK with them." Working with an agent will ensure your offer is competitive against the bids of "determined buyers."
Work with an experienced agent.
Experienced agents not only have the most knowledge about the available communities, they also understand the unique emotional and logistical challenges that may come with retirement, such as downsizing. Agents who, like Watt, earn a SRES designation have received additional training to work with buyers and sellers older than 50. Regardless of whether the agent has that designation, Watt advises, "Be sure [the agent has] experience that would lead you to believe [he or she has] your best interests at heart."
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