Senior housing managers here say they anticipate rising demandfor longer periods of time than with previous generations of retireesfor cottage-style independent-living homes among the growing number of people 55 and older who soon will be entering into retirement.
Some retirement communities are building, or planning to build, more cottages to meet the anticipated demand. Those new cottages, sometimes called twin homes, often are customized for each new occupant, and services like 24-hour security and home and yard maintenance are provided for a monthly fee.
Alan Curryer, president and CEO of Rockwood Retirement Communities, of Spokane, says cottages offer the best of both worlds when it comes to independence and service, and that has contributed to their increasing popularity.
(Cottage residents) can turn to us for services, as needed, and they also can be as independent as they want, Curryer says. The market for cottages is quite strong. Its a good way of diversifying the retirement options you have for your customers.
Rockwood Forest Estates independent-living development, at the Rockwood South campus at 2903 E. 25th, has 165 cottages, with cottage residents being on average five to seven years younger than other Rockwood residents, Curryer says.
Christie Hoffman, director of community relations for Spokanes Riverview Retirement Community, at 1801 E. Upriver Drive, also says the market for retirement cottages is strong. She says Riverview plans to build two fourplex independent-living homes in 2009. That will add to the 150 homes already surrounding the assisted-living and independent-living apartments of the complexs terrace building, and the centers skilled-nursing and rehab facility.
Its a popular way for younger retirees, both couples and individuals, to downsize from their larger homes, Hoffman says.
A lot of these folks like the freedom, she says. Its a home base. They also can travel from here, with the peace of mind that well take care of things for them while theyre gone.
If the current housing market has had any effect at all, Hoffman says, its that it sometimes has made it difficult for retirees to sell their family homes before moving to Riverview.
Jeffrey Bair, executive director at Spokanes Waterford on South Hill retirement complex, at 2929 S. Waterford Drive, says a new independent-living neighborhood with 64 homes, Waterford at Grapetree, currently is being developed.
Waterford already has 60 cottages adjoining its main campus. Construction began on those units in 1991, and they were completed over nine years, he says. Residents pay a deposit of about $180,000 to $300,000, to get into one of the cottages, depending on their size and amenities. There is also a monthly service fee of about $800 to $1,300, depending on the size of the home and the services the resident wants, and Waterford has had no problem keeping them all occupied, he says.
Curryer says the occupancy rate of Rockwoods cottages, which are renovated before a new resident moves in, always has been around 97 percent.
Stephen Collette, administrator at Spokane Valley Good Samaritan Village, at 17121 E. Eighth in the Greenacres area about a mile east of Sullivan Road, says Good Samaritan has a waiting list to get into one of its 56 cottages, and its planning to build between 52 to 62 more on its 200-acre campus. He says site work could begin as early as this winter.
Hoffman says theres a one- to two-year waiting list at Riverview.
Waterfords new development, just north of 29th Avenue, is a few blocks from its main campus, and the homes are being built on 16 acres in three phases over several years, Bair says.
Ten homes already have been built there, and the site can accommodate up to 54 more, he says. All of the homes will be detached residences, priced at between about $350,000 and $450,000.
Most will have two or three bedrooms and two bathrooms, with an average size of 1,800 to 2,200 square feet of floor space, Bair says.
Theyll be smaller than the homes they may have been living in, but residents are not downsizing in quality of home or quality of life, he says. They are great for people in the empty-nest phase of their lives.
Bair says people are beginning to enter into longer periods of retirement, around 20 to 30 years, and some may spend all of that time living in a cottage. The new legions of retirees are healthier and want to be active, but also have the security and services that come with being part of a retirement community, he says.
Living in a house appeals to them, because thats what theyre used to, thats the way theyve been living, he says. Now they can move to a home, but not worry about maintenance and yard work.
The amount of money cottage residents or their estates get back at death or when they move out varies.
At Riverview, where homes are occupied on a life-tenancy basis, residents or their estate receive 80 percent of the resale price when the cottage is vacated, says Hoffman.
At Rockwood, residents have a choice between two residency agreements.
With a 50-month amortized agreement, 19 percent of the entry fee paid to Rockwood is earned by Rockwood at admission. The average entry fee for Rockwoods cottages is $220,000, Curryer says. With 19 percent earned, the remainder is amortized at 2 percent per month. Refunds of the unearned portion thats been paid are made to the residents or their estate when they die or move out, he says.
About 60 percent of Rockwood cottage residents choose the 80 percent refundable agreement, under which 20 percent of the entry fee is earned by Rockwood at admission, and 80 percent is refundable when a resident dies or moves out, he says.
Curryer describes early retirees move to cottages as a transparent transition from their family home to a similar cottage neighborhood or village.
It can be hard to tell the difference between homes in Rockwood Forest Estates and those in any other suburban neighborhood, he says.
The more you can provide that, the more likely they are to move in, he says.
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