May 2014 Newsletter

Jeff Fleming headshot 2012

Greetings!  It’s early summer and – just as the weather — the real estate market is heating up!  What’s your ideal retirement spot?  The beach?  The mountains?  The lake?  A golf course?

Here at the American Association of Retirement Communities, we have options to meet all of your search criteria.  Baby boomers are beginning to retire in record numbers.  Is your development or community prepared to capture the coming migration?   Join the AARC and learn how to appeal to this lucrative market segment.

Become a Seal Of Approval community and prove to potential buyers that yours is an option that meets or exceeds their expectations!  Watch for details and make plans to attend the AARC annual conference in Memphis to learn more about retirees and current homebuying trends


Jeff Fleming, Chair

The AARC Announces Annual Conference in Memphis, Tennessee – October 15th – 17th

MemphisThe American Association of Retirement Communities’ Conference Planning Committee has been working on our 2014 conference.  After polling existing members and past conference attendees the committee sought out a city that would be an ideal host for this information packed conference.  The committee is working to finalize speakers and more information will be released in the coming month.  If you have suggestions for speakers or other conference feedback please provide it to the committee at

See you in Memphis!

5 Ways To Improve Your Home’s Curb Appeal

Mary Boone

House hunting is a little like speed dating. You only get a few minutes to make a great impression. That’s why curb appeal is so important.

“When potential buyers pull up to your house, they’re asking themselves: Is this place worth getting out of the car to look at?” says Kevin Kieffer, a real estate agent based in California’s East Bay area. “Your house needs to be framed up: It needs to look like a picture when people pull up. They expect to see tasteful paint colors, well-trimmed grass, new bark, fresh flowers — the whole deal.”

Real estate agents participating in Zillow’s 2014 Home-Selling Season Survey identified curb appeal as a key way to make a property more attractive to buyers. Kieffer says that, while it’s hard to quantify return on investment, curb appeal is the best way to get quick action and top dollar for your property.

“In a market like ours, if people can see that a property is turn-key and they’re not going to have to spend time resodding or painting, you’re more likely to get more interest,” he said. “If you end up with a multiple-offer situation, it’s typical for the price to go up by 3 percent per bidder — that can add up to $10,000 over asking price really quickly.”

The great news is that you don’t have to spend a lot to make big changes to your home’s exterior appearance. Start the makeover by cutting the grass, power washing the porch and walkway, and getting rid of clutter. Then, tackle one or all five of these perk-up projects to enhance your home’s curb appeal.

Hardware Redo

House numbers, a wall-mounted mailbox and a porch light can add interest to your home’s exterior — unless they’re dated or dinged up. Ideally, all this hardware should match, both in style and finish. You’ll also want to choose hardware that coordinates with the style of your home. Sleek, brushed nickel house numbers, for instance, might look great on a contemporary home, but they’d probably be out of place on a log cabin.

Add a Splash of Color

You can buy a gallon of quality exterior paint for about $25. That should be enough to add new color to — or simple freshen up — your front door, shutters and trim. Don’t be afraid of bold colors; just make sure they complement the other shades on your house and in your landscape. Of course, if the rest of the house is peeling, you may need to outlay more cash and paint the whole thing — or, at the very least, the side that faces the street.

Go Green

Your house may be gorgeous, but that won’t matter if no one can see it. When your home’s best features are obscured by overgrown branches and shrubs, it can make the house seem uninviting and unkempt. In addition to looking unappealing, trees that rub against your house can damage your siding and provide a direct pathway for squirrels and other rodents that want to get onto your roof or under your siding. Tame bushes and branches or hire someone to do the job for you.

Bring the Indoors Out

If your outdoor space allows it, add a comfortable place to sit. Use an outdoor rug to visually anchor a seating area and then add a loveseat or chair and small table. Colorful cushions and pillows in outdoor fabrics will add punch to the space; select cushions with removable covers so you can wash them or swap them out as seasons change. Choose all-weather art to add the finishing touches to your outdoor space. If you already have outdoor furniture, make sure it’s clean and cared for. Create a setting that’s so attractive prospective buyers can’t resist it.

More Americans felt rich enough to invest in vacation homes last year as the economy continued its’ recovery.

Les Christie


Vacation Home MarketAnnual sales jumped nearly 30% to 717,000 homes, according to the National Association of Realtors. Vacation home sales represented 13% of the total market, their highest share since 2006.   The median price rose to $168,700, up 12.5% from a year earlier.

The sales were spurred by a strong stock market, according to Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors. The S&P 500 piled up a whopping 30% return in 2013, its best performance in 16 years. That provided investors with the funds and the confidence to purchase recreational property.

Some of the buys were made by speculators looking for quick profits. About 5% of buyers turned the properties over before the year was out and another planned to sell within 12 months of purchase.

The main reason cited for buying was to use the homes as family vacation retreats. But 31% of buyers also said they planned to eventually use the homes as primary residences, often after they retire.

More than a quarter of buyers said the purchase was to take advantage of good deals or to diversify their assets. Almost as many planned to rent to others, at least part of the year.

NAR’s report also covered purchases of second homes for investment purposes. Those sales fell 8.5% year-over-year to 1.1 million.

“Investment buyers slowed their purchasing in 2013 because prices were rising quickly,” said Yun, who also cited the drop in the number of foreclosures available for the decline.

Want to buy a home? Better be carrying lots of cash.


Cash Home SalesAll-cash deals hit a record 43% of home sales during the first three months of 2014, according to RealtyTrac. That’s up from 19% a year earlier and the highest level reported since RealtyTrac began tracking the deals in early 2011.

The jump is due to two main factors: strict lending standards that make it difficult to get a mortgage and intense buyer competition. “Inventory shortages, as well as lending regulations favor the all-cash buyer,” said Chris Pollinger of First Team Real Estate in Southern California. Even buyers who would ordinarily finance their purchases are making all-cash offers to appear more attractive to sellers, said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. “If they have the ability to, homebuyers will put up cash bids just to jump to the front of the line,” he said.

After all, cash deals stand a better chance of closing on time. Buyers dependent on financing may run into snags due to strict mortgage underwriting standards. Interestingly, the increase in cash sales is occurring despite a downturn in purchases by institutional investors — firms that have been active in buying foreclosures and short sales with cash. “As institutional investors pull back, there is still strong demand from other cash buyers — including individual investors, second-home buyers and even owner-occupant buyers — to fill the vacuum,” said Blomquist.

Cash buyers paid an average of $207,668 for homes during the first quarter, a 13% discount to the properties’ average estimated value, according to RealtyTrac. Part of that disparity is due to the fact that a quarter of the sales were of homes either in the foreclosure process or already foreclosed on by lenders. Such distressed homes typically sell below market value. Once riddled with foreclosures, Cape Coral, Fla., had the highest level of all-cash deals at nearly 74% of first quarter sales, according to RealtyTrac.

Four other Florida cities followed: Miami (67%), Sarasota (65%), Palm Bay (64%) and Lakeland (62%). Miami, New York, Boston and coastal California cities are attracting a lot of foreign buyers who are paying in all cash, according to Jeff Meyers, founder of Meyers Research. In Miami, Latin Americans are putting down deposits of 50% or more on apartments in the early stages of development, enabling builders to self-finance the rest of the building or leverage bank loans at attractive rates.

The buyer then pays the balance in cash at the time of occupancy. In California, Chinese nationals and immigrants are “parking their cash in single-family homes,” said Meyers. In Irvine, Calif., for example, 80% of sales over the past year were to Chinese buyers, he said.