Coldwell Banker survey: Retirement communities may benefit from silver lining in economic downturnMortgagePress.comColdwell Banker, economic conditions, Jim Gillespie According to a recent national survey of Coldwell Banker real estate professionals, over half of those who work in popular retirement areas are seeing younger retirees (ages 60 and under) looking to purchase homes in their markets. Furthermore, 43 percent of all the sales associates and brokers surveyed believe market and economic conditions may cause an increase in demand for retiree homes in their areas throughout the next year. "Over the past couple of years, home prices have declined significantly in the majority of markets with traditional appeal to retirees," said Jim Gillespie, president and chief executive officer of Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC. "Younger retirees are taking advantage of these desirable prices and turning the economic downturn into an opportunity." While the survey indicates that this is emerging trend across the country, driving factors seem to vary regionally. For example, anecdotal feedback from Coldwell Banker real estate professionals in South Florida finds pre-retirees taking real estate-related steps now to support longer-term goals. "Many individuals not yet ready to retire are purchasing these homes and leasing them until they are prepared to move permanently," said Elaine Harari of Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate in Bay Harbor Islands, Fla. In desirable areas with low property taxes, such as northeast Arkansas, it's more common for younger retirees to move from more expensive cities; some even taking jobs for which they can telecommute to save money. Additionally, Coldwell Banker professionals in Michigan note that some retirement communities are experiencing an influx of former automobile company employees who have received early retirement packages. Andrew Briele, president of Coldwell Banker First Affiliate in Sedona, Ariz. reports a recent increase in sales volume. "Lifestyle is certainly the reason why so many choose to move to Sedona. We have 360 days of sunshine. With the 30 percent price corrections we have experienced, many individuals who are at or near retirement are realizing this is a great opportunity for them. Some buyers who have lost their jobs, taken retirement packages or sold their businesses are moving up their plans for retirement and taking advantage of the low mortgage rates and home prices. Others, who are already here, are moving up." The Coldwell Banker real estate professionals surveyed offered their perspectives on the top reasons retirees are buying or selling homes, and 33 percent said the No. 1 reason retirees are moving right now is to live closer to their families. Interestingly, 12 percent cited improvements in housing conditions, such as buyer-friendly home prices and interest rates, as the key drivers. Other results from the overall survey include: • 53 percent of Coldwell Banker real estate professionals have observed an increase in retirees who plan to downsize from their primary residences into smaller properties. • 37 percent are seeing an increased number of retirees who own more than one property sell their primary residences to move to their secondary homes. • 23 percent are seeing more people buy different homes for retirement, or move into their previously purchased retirement properties earlier than expected. Methodology: Coldwell Banker conducted an online survey on trends regarding retirement-aged home buyers in March 2009. The survey yielded responses from 1,475 Coldwell Banker real estate professionals across the United States, including 423 agents and brokers in communities typically described as "havens for retirees." For more information, visit www.coldwellbanker.com.