Listening to seniors at Del Webb

July 27, 2001 |

Developers of active-adult retirement communities consider residents' input as key, especially when deciding what new products to introduce.

In the case of Del Webb's Sun City Huntley near Chicago, facility owners survey not only residents, but also people who looked-but didn't buy, according to Huntley sales manager Danny Goodman.

'We want to know how to improve on service and what people who don't buy wanted,' he says.

One of the changes the company adopted at its suburban Chicago development as a result of focus groups was adding basements as an option on some of the home models. Although conventional wisdom held that older people prefer ranch-style homes without stairs to climb, many Midwestern residents asked for basements, explains Goodman.

'It's a matter of what they were used to,' he says. 'A lot of people have a lot of stuff and they want a basement.'

Other models feature a loft to accommodate people who have lots of visiting family or live with a child or caretaker.

'We've gotten rid of the traditional living room and dining room,' Goodman points out. 'It's more of a great room. There's an eat-in kitchen, because no matter your age or background, everyone ends up in the kitchen when they come over at the holiday.'

Another option, soon to be introduced, is a condominium complex designed for residents who are accustomed to multi family housing.

'It's three buildings of 30 units with underground parking,' says Goodman. 'We're trying to reach a different market segment. It offers a little different security feel and there's a certain segment of the population who prefers to live in condo-type homes.'

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