STARTING in 2009, the bottom fell out of the age-restricted housing market in New Jersey, as people 55 and older made the decision to “age in place” rather than try to sell their longtime homes in an uncertain real estate environment.
But lately some older buyers are returning to the age-restricted market, taking advantage of big discounts, free upgrades and low mortgage interest rates. The analyst Jeffrey G. Otteau said there was about a decade’s worth of inventory for these properties in New Jersey. (Late in 2009, state law was changed to allow the lifting of age restrictions at many projects still in the pipeline.)
April and Bob Giardina of Edison decided to buy a two-bedroom condominium at the Savannah in Westfield, N.J., restricted to people 55 and older, even though they are 54 and 53, respectively, and still own a large house in Edison. The couple declined to say how much they paid for the condo
“We can’t legally spend the night at our place until my next birthday,” Mrs. Giardina said about the couple’s new 2,800-square-foot apartment, which has a terrace and balcony. “But we visit it.”
“The other night we went over there, walked to the really cool wine-and-beer store in downtown Westfield, then went over to Williams-Sonoma and bought two Pilsner glasses, and came back to have dinner outside,” she said.
The Giardinas have a daughter who will not graduate from high school for two years, and Mrs. Giardina said they did not plan to put their Edison house on the market right now.
“We didn’t want to lose the chance to buy this unit, though,” Mrs. Giardina said. “We think we got a very good deal, and the builder will finish it exactly the way we want. There were only a few units left, so we did it.”
James Ward, the builder of the 35-unit Savannah, said four more condos were available, but that is after three years of aggressive marketing.
Mr. Ward’s project, a five-story building on Prospect Street, a block from a train station, with marble fireplaces and baths, a courtyard, and a fountain, suffered from exquisitely
poor timing, opening as it did right in the teeth of the housing and credit crises. By last summer, Mr. Ward said, he had sold only 20 units and that was after offering a “live free for a year” deal for his condos, priced from $850,000 to $1.5 million.
By offering to help fix up the homes of older Westfield residents who wanted to buy at the Savannah, Mr. Ward said he garnered another handful of recent contracts, two about to be closed sales, and two others that are contingent on the sale of the buyers’ current homes.
John and Ann Marie Neidzwski of Ramsey, age 62 and 54, managed to sell their long-time home on a cul-de-sac within six weeks, closing on the sale early this month. They quickly managed to find a condo at Escapes Ocean Breeze in Manahawkin, an age-restricted beach-area development by Paramount Homes in its first 120-unit phase of construction.
“We found a coupon online for $25,000 off” the cost of upgrades, Mrs. Neidzwski said. She said the couple wound up negotiating on numerous upgrades to a two-bedroom two-bath condo, adding a loft with bath, private patio, and even special flooring in the garage, and paying $455,000 at closing.
They were so pleased with the eventual deal that they went for it despite the fact the condo will not be ready until the fall, Mrs. Neidzwski said. Her 92-year-old mother lives with the couple, and the July closing on their Ramsey house meant that the three of them had to find a rental for the rest of the summer.
“It’s worth it,” Mrs. Neidzwski said in a telephone interview on the hectic day of the move to the rental. “We just feel lucky — lucky that it is such a buyers’ market, and we could get the perfect place for us.”
Another couple who wound up renting until finding new construction at a discount said they were fortunate to be in the market for age-restricted housing at a time when builders are motivated to make deals.
The couple, Richard Mickol and Patricia Waskiewicz Mickol, said they secured a total of $55,000 in discounts before signing a contract at Four Seasons at Harbor Bay in Little Egg Harbor, a K. Hovnanian Homes development.
The Mickols had owned a home in Old Bridge, which they put on the market in November 2009 when federal tax credits to home buyers were being offered to stimulate sales. They had a contract within weeks, and moved to a rental unit at a Four Seasons development in Lakewood to “try and figure out what was next,” said Mr. Mickol, who is 58.
Former New Yorkers, they met numerous friends at Lakewood with backgrounds similar to their own, Mrs. Mickol said, and decided they loved living near the shore in an age-restricted community. “They were as happy a bunch of people as I’ve ever known,” said Mr. Mickol of the residents of the 15-year-old Lakewood development.
“But we wanted something new,” Mr. Mickol said. “I don’t want to live in a 30-year-old house when I’m 75.”
The Harbor Bay development, about 15 minutes’ drive from Long Beach Island “was a perfect match,” Mrs. Mickol said.
She said the builder provided roughly $45,000 in free upgrades, including a private, double-size patio, and they received an additional $10,000 discount for using Hovnanian’s mortgage lender, who offered them a rate in the low 4 percent range.
The complex has a “fantastic” 16,000-square-foot clubhouse, Mr. Mickol said, with indoor and outdoor pools, a fitness center including a spa, game and billiard rooms, and tennis and bocce courts.