As Baby Boomers and Gen-X members near retirement and an empty nest, they are increasingly seeking housing to match their changing lifestyle.
A demand for age-restricted communities by these groups—which represent more than 30 percent of the housing market—is growing nationwide, and the Fredericksburg region is no exception.
One such community is Barley Woods, just off State Route 3 in Spotsylvania County at 12301 Barley Woods Ave.
Built on 32 acres, Barley Woods consists of 124 homes, 64 duplexes and 59 single-family detached homes, starting at $296,990. Forty-one of those have sold, with 11 already built and occupied.
“We expect to continue with at least two to three closings per month,” said Janet Davis, Barley Woods’ sales manager. “We have a lot to offer and buyers are recognizing that.”
The community includes winding walking paths and green space, a fenced dog park, an orchard of blueberry bushes and woodland. A professionally maintained garden will be cultivated for the use of residents in their own kitchens or at planned social events.
A large fitness room with free weights, treadmills, and a variety of other exercise equipment is available to residents in the 4,500-square-foot clubhouse, which also features billiards rooms, an entertaining kitchen, small meeting rooms and large gathering spaces. Outside is a fire pit and grilling station, resort style pool and sun deck.
Cornerstone Homes offers seven one-level-living floorplans with flexibility for buyers to tailor their home to individual preferences. Several model homes have been constructed, with one finished and available for tours. Other models should be completed over the next few weeks.
The 2,182-square-foot model home—“The Washington”—is detached, with three bedrooms and two full bathrooms, a formal dining room, and a two-car garage. Buyers who desire a contemporary aesthetic with plenty of light and wide open spaces will appreciate the kitchen and great room with a covered patio in the back.
A large walk-in pantry accommodates a wealth of food storage and a kitchen island provides ample workspace for cooking and other projects. The oven and microwave, built into the wall, are easier to access than a traditional stove. The cooktop is smooth for easy cleaning and occupies a countertop nearby.
The owner’s suite is spacious, with a 10 foot 11 inches by 12 foot 6 inches walk-in owner’s closet, a large bath tub, his and her sink space and shower.
A gas fireplace is standard in every layout plan, and options are available for attic storage or adding a basement, each accessible by a short stairway. Thresholds from garage to mud and laundry room are flush with the floor. Outside, buyers can opt for a step to the front door or to have step-free access.
“Barley Woods has a great location, tucked away from Route 3 so you feel like you’re out in the country, but all the conveniences you need are right around the corner,” said Anne Overington, a real estate agent with Century 21 Redwood Realty in Fredericksburg, who specializes in the senior community.
“They’re adorable homes—what they’re doing in their kitchens and bathrooms is especially nice,” she said. “Barley Woods is a prime example of catering to the needs of Baby Boomers.”
Overington, who has been an agent in the area since 2002, has noticed that Fredericksburg has become more of a destination for those in their 50s and older.
“With so many government and military employees in this area, people are moving here to be close to their children and grandchildren,” she said. “Now we have three wonderful hospitals, nicely spread out, VRE access, an easy drive to the beach or the mountains, and a charming downtown area.”
Joe Bernard, a real estate agent who works with the website 55places.com, which specializes in 55-plus communities, said he’s seen many seniors moving to the region from the Washington, D.C., area and other large cities up north.
“You get a few leads from Northern Virginia, but many are from Connecticut, New York, and Pennsylvania, where it’s colder,” Bernard said. “I’ve even had some who moved to Florida and came back up to Virginia because it was too hot. Some people like having seasons—just not lots of snow and extreme cold.”
The area also is affordable. “The tax structure here is nice compared to a lot of other places,” Bernard said.
Overington listed several already established and thriving 55-plus communities in the region, such as Celebrate Virginia North, Virginia Heritage at Lee’s Parke and the Regency at Chancellorsville.
“This has only been a movement in the last 15 years or so,” she said. “And I expect the demand for these communities to only increase.”
Gene Brown, vice president of Atlantic Builders and president of the Fredericksburg Area Builders Association, said the connection between the millennial generation and those age 45 and older is often overlooked.
“Right now we have the millennials, the largest-ever population group buying homes and forming families,” Brown said. “It used to be people just wanted to go to a warm climate to retire. But now people want to be around their kids and grandkids—so those two markets are very dependent on each other.”
Brown pointed out that those in their 50s aren’t generally retirees, and often people continue to work beyond age 65.
“These people may be retired from the military or another career, but are pursuing a second career and want to stay active,” he said. “That’s what makes this area so attractive—a healthy job market, very educated population, a lot of history, great health care—Fredericksburg has a lot to offer people from all walks of life.”