BOOMER Home: Should You Leave?

By Paula Neely | April 5th, 2014

... downsizing, resizing or finding your new dream home

Boomers Mary Helen and Curtis Williams enjoyed raising their children in a charming Victorian home in Ashland, but they were tired of maintaining a home built more than a hundred years ago. They recently moved into a newer single-level home nearby.

“We wanted a home with one floor and less house and yard maintenance,” Mary Helen said. In keeping with boomers nationwide, they also wanted to stay close to their friends and family, work, church, doctors and shopping. According to the National Association of Realtors, most boomer homebuyers either stay within 20 miles of their current homes or move to be closer to their children and grandchildren.

The Williamses were lucky to find an existing single-level home that fit their needs. Realtor and gerontologist Cathy Saunders of Long & Foster Realty said the inventory of existing homes with first-floor master suites in Richmond is “inadequate,” and they sell quicker than people can get in to see them. She has a waiting list of people searching.

Like many boomer homebuyers in the Richmond area, the Williamses didn’t downsize as much as they originally thought they might. Their new home is almost as large as their old home. It has three bedrooms and two baths, so there’s plenty of room when their children visit.

BOOMER consulted local experts and found home builders are responding to this new wave of homebuyers.


Similarly, Pat and Michael Heflin, empty-nesters in their early 60s, are building a 3,500-square-foot home in Goochland County, not far from the home where they raised their daughters. “We’re not downsizing, we’re re-sizing,” Pat said.

Located in The Parke at Saddlecreek, a maintenance-free community with homes by Eagle Construction, their new residence will feature an open floor plan with a first-floor owner’s suite and an adjacent study, an updated kitchen and breakfast nook, and a family room with a gas fireplace. The second floor will have two bedrooms, a bathroom and a play area for their grandkids.

The homeowners association will provide exterior maintenance, including lawn care, snow removal, gutter cleaning and power washing. There’s also a clubhouse for socializing and small group meetings, but no pool or exercise facility. “We weren’t looking for a lot of amenities,” Pat said.

Tim Parent with Boone Homes, which offers customizable home designs in maintenance-free communities, said their boomer clients are primarily interested in first-floor master suites, eat-in kitchens with upgraded appliances, and luxurious master bathrooms with frameless glass showers. Home office space is also a priority, as boomers continue to work or consult, he said.

Energy-efficient features, such as Rinnai tankless hot water systems, are also important to them, he said. Tankless systems save energy and money compared with the traditional hot water tank method, which heats and reheats a ready supply of hot water.


Maintenance-free communities with available homes or lots include Tarrington and Founders Bridge in Midlothian, the Kinloch golf course community in Goochland, Harvest Glen in Chesterfield, and several in the far West End, including Wyndham, Bellingham and Belmont Park at Twin Hickory. Heron Pointe in Chesterfield on Swift Creek Reservoir and CrossRidge in Glen Allen are also popular age-restricted communities.

Alternatively, Saunders said, some boomers are making river homes their primary residences and buying a smaller home or condo in the Richmond area to be near their children and grandchildren.

Saunders said they’re attracted to condos in the Fan District, downtown high rises and brown- stones and town homes at West Broad Village in Short Pump. New energy-efficient single-level condominiums designed specifically for empty-nesters and retirees will also be offered again this spring at the Villas at Magnolia Lakes in Midlothian.

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