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The new senior class: Boomers on campus
'University-linked retirement communities' unite seniors, colleges

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"Our studio or one-bedrooms are intentionally priced pretty modestly," Diffey says, "so they might be affordable to someone who retires on a teacher's income.

"Typically, people sell their existing homes to pay the entry fees. Then the monthly fees cover everything except incidental expenses, including assisted living and nursing if it should become necessary. That mitigates against running out of resources as a consequence of long life. A lot of people are interested in this approach rather than upfront insurance for financing long-term care."

Diffey says Kendal offers flexible contracts that allow those who already have long-term-care insurance policies to get a discount on entry or monthly fees.

The aging of the well-heeled, well-educated baby boomers is attracting other developers to the trend.

Boston's Campus Continuum, established two years ago by principals with backgrounds in designing collegiate retirement communities, is focusing on independent-living communities rather than the more traditional continuing-care model, says Gerard Badler, managing director. Instead of paying fees, residents buy their units outright.

"Although in the continuing-care model the entry fee is usually refundable," he says, "you don't benefit from any appreciation of the real estate when you buy into that kind of a community. The 55-plus buyers we have in mind would be buying into condos or co-ops. In that way, they get the benefit of any capital appreciation."

He estimates that buyers would need to be able to sell their homes for $200,000 to $300,000 to finance the purchase of an active adult condo with little or no mortgage.

"It could be more expensive in high-cost areas such as New England or California," he says.

Campus Continuum markets communities that are in the pre-construction phase and targets those who are buying for the long term, rather than for investment purposes.

"That's critical," Badler says, "because we want to ensure that they continue to attract people interested not only in real estate, but in lifelong learning."

As part of its development strategy, Campus Continuum also solicits requests from alumni who would like to retire to their alma maters.

Next: "The baby-boomer generation is qualitatively different."
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