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Retiring boomers could fuel Wilson housing market
Dec 13, 2006 12:00 am
Catering to the retiring baby boomers could be a successful financial arrangement for county officials and homebuilders alike, according to a well-known market researcher.
Edsel Charles of Market Graphics said the area around Mt. Juliet east to Hwy. 109 is ripe for developing housing for people aged 55 and older.
Two developments, both by Del Webb, have catered to this market in Wilson County. The recently-approved developments are in Mt. Juliet and in eastern Wilson County near the Linwood Road exit.
Charles said there are several appealing factors to drawing the senior market to Wilson County. They don't have children to put in public schools and there is hardly any crime associated with the demographic.
"We've done so well for so long that we haven't taken the time to understand the retiree market," Charles said.
The ideal price range for retiree communities are between $120,000 to $180,000 per unit, Charles said, adding 2006 is noted as the first year of baby boomer generation retirements en masse.
Attracting retirees also requires "fun-time" businesses catering to their grandchildren, Charles said.
"Why not make this the retirement capital of the world?" Charles asked.
The bottom line – it's time for homebuilders to adapt, Charles said.
"There are things that are changing more in your world in the next two to three years than they've changed in your lifetime," Charles said.
While the long-hot Rutherford County market is beginning to cool, Wilson County stands as an area that will continue to make significant gains in the housing market, Charles said.
In addition, while there has been a nationwide downturn in new home sales, Charles said it's no longer relevant to discuss the national housing market in relation to developments closer to home.
"We are no longer housing markets," Charles said. "… We are city markets."
Wilson County is slated to have a slight increase in new houses built despite the national downturn – unlike areas such as St. Louis and particularly Detroit, which Charles called the place to build "if you want to go broke.
"… St. Louis is twice the population [of Nashville] and we're building almost 3,000 more homes a year," Charles noted.
West Wilson County in particular is booming. There are 622 new lots from a year ago there, with 130 new lots in Lebanon and 19 less in eastern Wilson County.
"Wilson County is positioned now for a fair amount of growth," Charles said. "… It's just on the edge of turning up big time."
However, there are signs the Nashville housing market is slowing. The number of finished, unoccupied new homes is double that of a year ago.
"That's an early warning figure that we're headed into a recession," Charles said.
Higher interest rates "kill" the housing market, Charles said, saying the threshold starts at around 8.125-percent.
The event was sponsored by George Thomas Realty and Wilson Bank and Trust. Charles' company tracks real estate trends across Tennessee and in 20 cities across the nation.
Staff Writer Jason Cox can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 45 or by e-mail at email@example.com.