More Than Just A Home: How Lifestyle Directors Sell the Community Experience

When 55+ home buyers are searching for a home to purchase, it’s not just the house they’re seeking — it’s everything that comes along with community. Amenities, social groups and the overall feel of the neighborhood is important to the 55+ buyer. the social director can help to make the sale.

Three social directors shared their insights on this topic on a panel, “Lifestyle Directors: Your Community’s Most Powerful Marketing tool,” at the 2019 International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas. they discussed important traits for social directors, how they are the “heart” of the community culture, and what amenities are popular among 55+ community home owners.

Katherine Erstad, lifestyle director at Anthem Ranch in Broomfield, Colo., spoke about what traits she has that have served her well in her position. “Someone who genuinely believes in the community, is extroverted and a good listener, and has the natural ability to work with a wide variety of people, would best be fit for a lifestyle director position,” said Erstad. “There are usually many residents, all whom have different opinions and concerns, and it’s important that the home owners feel that they are being heard and valued.”

The lifestyle directors not only help foster the day-to-day social aspects of the community but are also an integral part of the sales process.

The lifestyle directors not only help foster the day-to-day social aspects of the community but are also an integral part of the sales process. Mike Aguilar from the toll Bros. Regency in Reno, Nev., explained the top three attributes that impact the purchase decision at 55+ communities.

“55+ home buyers want to feel like they’re at home. They pay attention to what amenities are offered and want to ensure the home has a good price value,” said Aguilar. “Where a lifestyle director can best help the sales process is with the amenities.”

When a prospective buyer comes to tour the facilities, the lifestyle director should also be part of the sales process to paint the picture of their dream — not only of the homes themselves, but of their social lives and the ease of living. Golf cart tours are popular, as well as guest house programs where prospective buyers can stay one to two nights for free to get a feel of the community.

However, providing the right amenities is important.

“Baby boomers have a great vision for what they want the rest of their lives to be, but they don’t have the time or know how to do it.”

“Baby boomers have a great vision for what they want the rest of their lives to be, but they don’t have the time or know how to do it,” said Alana Cobb from Bailey Harris in Auburn, Ala. “Providing them with social options, comfort and convenience, as well as fewer rules and regulations, usually yields happy residents.”

Erstad, Aguilar and Cobb all found that the more freedom baby boomers have, the happier they are. In a 55+ community, freedom can include family visiting overnight at no cost, free parking, bike rentals, pet- friendly environments, and being socially engaged with food and beverage options.

Additionally, the three enthusiastically stated that “water” sells — meaning kayaking, paddle boarding, or other water-related activities are a hit at their communities.

Baby boomers love to host and be together; giving them the ability to do that is critical. Whether it be at a central building in the community, or even in their own homes — or garages.

“Garage parties have become a big hit,” said Cobb. “Residents open up their garage doors, have food and drink, and their neighbors and friends come over and hang out. they all have a great time and appreciate the freedom to do that and have fun.”

Another popular, less social amenity are adult education classes.

“Baby boomers love to learn and providing classes on a variety of topics — from academic courses like history to art classes like knitting or painting — have really become an increasingly popular trend across the country,” said Erstad.

Every 55+ community will have specific needs and desires — but above all, the lifestyle director at any community is the greatest need and marketing tool.

Article by Kristin LeMunyon

Kristin LeMunyon is Manager of Content and Media Relations at the National Association of Home Builders. With nearly a decade of experience, she manages NAHB councils’ media relations programs and provides communications, editorial, public relations and writing support for each of the five councils.