Because of the growing popularity of active adult communities such as this one in Granby, Prudential Connecticut Realty launched its Active Adult Division earlier this month.

Twenty or thirty years ago, they were concerned about whether the backyard was big enough for the kids and whether the new house’s location was in a good school system. But these days, Connecticut’s baby boomers are looking for different amenities in a new home, and one real estate agency has started a special division to cater to the growing demographic of older adults.

Prudential Connecticut Realty launched its Active Adult Division earlier this month. The new division focuses on Connecticut residents who want to live in active adult communities across the state.

“The demographic, it’s a large percentage of the population,” said Barry Rosa, Prudential Connecticut’s vice president of special services. “We wanted to be able to offer services for this group.”

Active adult communities are usually subdivisions made up of single-family homes or condominiums that are open to people 55 and older. They’ve been popping up all over the state for the past couple of years and are popular with baby boomers.

“There continue to be a number of projects proposed across the state,” said William Kane, a partner at the Cheshire-based real estate evaluation and consultation firm Wellspeak Dugas & Kane.

The baby boomers are a very active market segment, Kane said, and it was wise of Prudential to set up the new division. Kane’s firm has done market studies that found that about 80 percent of seniors retire locally and, of those, about 20 percent buy new homes in age-restricted communities.

“Clearly there are people approaching this age group,” he said.

Almost 32 percent of Connecticut’s population is older than 50, according to Prudential. And by 2007, almost a third of Connecticut households will be headed by someone older than 55 and will have a median income of more than $100,000. They will have significant equity and be accustomed to large living spaces.

“This group is also not drastically downsizing because they are still having friends and family over,” Rosa said in a prepared statement. “The homes we are selling are typically around 2,000 square feet with two or three bedrooms and an open floor plan.”

They are not looking for a retirement community, but looking for age-designed houses in areas that offer recreational amenities and low-maintenance living, according to Prudential.

“Most of our clientele in this market segment are not moving for health reasons,” said Chief Executive Officer Peter Helie in a prepared statement. “These people are still working, and they may well be looking to free up time by leaving the maintenance and landscaping to others.”


Prudential has been marketing some of the active adult communities for years, Rosa said. But the new division connects potential homebuyers with Realtors who are specially certified to sell the homes.

“We’ve marketed many, many homes in these communities,” Rosa said. “It looked like it was time to put everything together in one place.”

The company developed a three-day program for its agents who are interested in specializing in marketing those communities. The program combines classes that lead agents to receiving their Seniors Real Estate Specialist designation and custom information for Prudential agents, according to Rosa.

Agents in the program discuss the demographics that make active adult communities so popular.

“It opens your eyes to the things that are going on,” Rosa said.

The program also teaches agents about the types of decisions that older adults make when they buy new homes and how to help them make the decisions. The agents also learn about how to muster resources, such as financial planners who can help with retirement accounts, and about design differences in homes marketed to older adults.

“That’s why we do this stuff separately and specifically,” Rosa said.

The company held its first certification course two months ago, in preparation for the launch of the new division, and 45 agents were certified. Rosa expects 45 more to receive the certification next month.

Reaction to the program so far has been positive, Rosa said.

“The response is pretty good,” he said.

A related Web site has been up for awhile and potential homebuyers have been calling Prudential Connecticut’s toll-free telephone number or approaching agents and asking what sort of options are available and how much they cost. The activity will likely increase as the program becomes more well known and as more agents get the SERS designation.

“I imagine that’s going to accelerate,” Rosa said.

Active adult communities are being proposed in virtually all areas of Connecticut, Kane said. A large one totaling 1,200 units – many of which will be age-restricted – was recently proposed for the former headquarters of Union Carbide in Danbury. But most of the projects aren’t that large, Kane said. They tend to include from 30 to 100 units.

The prices of the single-family homes or condominiums for active adults in Connecticut usually range from $300,000 to $400,000, he said. Some are marketed for about $250,000, but those are usually base models and the price rises as amenities are added.

“The prices end up creeping up,” Kane said.

It is possible that active adult communities could become overbuilt in some areas of the state, he added. But it’s difficult to tell because the demand for the homes hasn’t been filled.

“We’ll see where it’s going,” Kane said. “There’s still underserved demand in the marketplace. But that’s yet to be seen.”

The homes have been popular with older adults who sell their homes for around $600,000 and buy an age-restricted home for around $400,000. Others sell their old homes and buy a home in an active adult community in Connecticut and a winter home in Florida, Kane said.