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Baby boomers helping to drive Sun City real estate market

Do you have any idea what the hottest item is in Summerlin these days? Your house. And do you have any idea what the hottest item will be in Summerlin, at least for several years to come? Again, your house.

And if your house is in Sun City Summerlin, the home-buying market is becoming so hot that if you’re willing to sell it at a legitimately fair price, chances are good that once your house goes on the market, it will be sold even before you hammer a for-sale sign onto your front lawn.

Why? For several reasons, but principal among them is that so many baby boomers are coming into retirement age that new houses — at prices within their means — are becoming less available to them. So resales are their next preference.

“And where do you find a nicer, more suitable community for retirees than Sun City Summerlin?” asked Sue Papilion, who served for two years as executive director of the senior community before her recent retirement.

Now bear in mind that this column is by no means a shill for the real estate industry. But facts are facts. And Papilion, whose background is in the retail-fashion industry, had some strong facts at her fingertips during her brief career as chief administrator of the 7,779-home Sun City community.

“For one thing, it’s a known fact that Summerlin is one of the nicest places anywhere to retire. And for retirees, Sun City Summerlin is kept nicer than (similar Sun City communities) Anthem and Aliante, even though our houses are older,” Papilion said. “And I can tell you the baby boomers also know that Summerlin is one of the best places to retire.”

According to U.S. Census Bureau data, at present there are approximately 76.4 million baby boomers throughout the U.S. The term was created to characterize the inordinate rash of births between 1946 and 1964. Thus, the retirement of baby boomers — which began in 2012, when the first boomers began to collect full Social Security checks at age 67 — will not end until 2031.

Citing statistical data available to her, Papilion said that approximately 1 million baby boomers retired last year and another 1 million will retire this year.

“Next year, there will be a 70 percent increase — or 1.7 million baby boomers — coming into retirement. And the following year, in 2018, there will be another 1.7 million baby boomers joining the ranks of retirees,” she said.

“Now, in addition to the beauty and benefits of living in Summerlin, there are the benefits of living in a warm, sunny climate that has certain tax advantages, among them no state income tax.

“I can also tell you that baby boomers are heading in droves to the Southwest to retire, and Summerlin is high on their list.”

Last month Papilion was re-elected to the Sun City Board of Directors, a position she held for three years prior to her retirement as the community’s executive director last Nov. 30.

To illustrate how the housing market has tightened considerably in a relatively short time, there were 77 homes for sale in Sun City at the end of January — or approximately 1 percent of the community.

“Two years ago, we had about 150 homes for sale in Sun City,” she noted — or almost 2 percent of the community.

Traditionally, Sun City’s governing body invites new homeowners to a get-acquainted reception on the last Tuesday of every month.

“From that we’re finding, there are about 40 new homeowners a month in Sun City. It also means 40 or so homes are being sold each month,” Papilion added.

Keep in mind the nature of Sun City as a retirement community. The prime reasons houses are sold are due to resident illness, death and those who move in with relatives or into assisted-living facilities.

“But homes that are for sale are going faster than ever these days,” Papilion said. “I would say maybe there are 15 houses in Sun City which have been on the market for six months. That means only one thing under today’s conditions: They are outrageously overpriced.”

Herb Jaffe was an op-ed columnist and investigative reporter for most of his 39 years at the Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J. His most recent novel, “Double Play,” is now available. Contact him at hjaffe@cox.net.

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