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Important Home Features to Look For: An Interview with Thomas Eleazer of Florida Leisure Communities

By Thomas Eleazer

Tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

Florida Leisure Communities builds custom homes for over-55 adults in central Florida retirement communities. Our two current communities are Arlington Ridge and Legacy of Leesburg in Leesburg. Florida. We specialize in designing homes specifically to meet the needs of retirement-age buyers who want to age in place in a well-planned, affordable community with a wide variety of amenities. We are unique among retirement home builders in our area in that we will customize any of our more than two dozen home designs to meet the needs and desires of individual homeowners. In addition, each home we build is backed by our own Builder's Warranty, plus a 10-year insured warranty on major structural components offered by Residential Warranty Corporation (RWC).

Can you briefly talk about the role that the surrounding community plays in a new home?

Our homeowners are buying not only a new home but an entire way of life in one of our well-planned age-restricted communities that offer many options for recreation, exercise, creativity, friendship and fun. Because our homeowners come from all over the US and the world, we have a community of very diverse neighbors who love to make new friends and have fun together in their retirement years. Both Arlington Ridge and Legacy of Leesburg have resident-based programs for neighbors helping neighbors, as well as resident-led groups for many different hobbies and interests. In addition, our home city of Leesburg offers excellent medical facilities, close-by shopping, and a small-town lifestyle that appeals to our customers.

What are some of the most popular home features that people in Florida are looking for?

Our buyers are looking for spacious open floorplans that are easy to clean and maintain. Many love a great room concept with an adjoining open kitchen for a large casual space for entertaining. They also love a split-bedroom plan so that visiting family member and other guests can enjoy their own private area of the home. Many also want a double master suite for convenience and privacy of the residents living in the home. Golf cart garages are also a popular feature, as many use golf carts to conveniently travel within the community.

How would you compare the features in an adult home community with those in a "standard" house?

A home in an adult community will usually have fewer bedrooms, since there are no children living in the home. Therefore they can offer excellent living space for a couple in a smaller home that is easier to maintain and more energy efficient. Homes are also usually more open and without formal living rooms, rather one large great room for casual living. Also customers request more luxury features, since they see their home as their "last" home and want to enjoy the benefits of their well-earned retirement.

What tips can you give to people who are new to the area and ready to buy a home?

Ask about how your homeowners' association is operated and what its financial situation is. You want to make sure your community is stable, so that you won't be faced with a large assessment of monthly fee increase in the future. Also, ask other homeowners about the level of service they have received from their builder, because you want someone who stands behind their work with good warranty service and support. Also ask what the builder is willing to do to customize their "standard" floorplan, so that you get exactly the home you want. Check out the surrounding area to make sure that the shopping and medical care that you need is convenient to your community. Also, check on the taxes and other fees assessed by local governments, as these can substantially add to your total cost of living.

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