Is the future of senior housing on college campuses?

While it may sound like a contradiction, apartments and condominiums for seniors on college campuses is one of the latest innovations in senior housing. Called UBCRs, or University Based Retirement Communities, the properties offer college courses and other activities many seniors find desirable including classes, health clubs, sporting events, medical services, or just the opportunity to socialize with young people in a stimulating setting.

With more than 4,000 colleges and universities in the United States, it seems likely that UBCRs are here to stay. CBS Market Watch indicates that there are currently 50 such active communities on campuses with 30 more in the planning stages.

At the University of Florida in Gainesville, a 270 unit senior community called “Oak Hammock” is nestled among the 50,000 students on the grounds of this large campus. Residents are issued college ID cards, allowing them unlimited use of the facilities and activities. A wide range of classes are available and do not require prerequisites, tests or grades. In addition, seniors have access to wellness and business centers, entertainment venues and a state-of-the-art health club. Other amenities include casual and formal dining, a veterinary clinic, gardens, lakes, walking trails and housekeeping services, all covered by 24-hour security in the gated residence community.

Benefits are there for college students should they decide to become involved both through internships in the therapies, marketing and administration as well as paying jobs on-site at UBRCs in maintenance and a variety of other activities. The university reaps the benefit of work-related experiences for their students while residents enjoy an intergenerational, intellectually challenging environment designed to help seniors remain independent as long as possible.

In planning and researching this article, I checked with a variety of organizations that provide senior housing in Western New York and I was not able to find any projects of this type locally. Perhaps someone locally will seize this idea and run with it – I think it’s a good one.

Michael Olear is a licensed associate real estate broker with

MJ Peterson Real Estate. You can find him online at www.olear.wpengine.com

Is the college campus in the future for senior housing?

While it may sound like a contradiction, apartments and condominiums for seniors on college campuses is one of the latest innovations in senior housing. Called UBCRs, or University Based Retirement Communities, the properties offer college courses and other activities many seniors find desirable including classes, health clubs, sporting events, medical services, or just the opportunity to socialize with young people in a stimulating setting.

With more than 4,000 colleges and universities in the United States, it seems likely that UBCRs are here to stay. CBS Market Watch indicates that there are currently 50 such active communities on campuses with 30 more in the planning stages.

At the University of Florida in Gainesville, a 270 unit senior community called “Oak Hammock” is nestled among the 50,000 students on the grounds of this large campus. Residents are issued college ID cards, allowing them unlimited use of the facilities and activities. A wide range of classes are available and do not require prerequisites, tests or grades. In addition, seniors have access to wellness and business centers, entertainment venues and a state-of-the-art health club. Other amenities include casual and formal dining, a veterinary clinic, gardens, lakes, walking trails and housekeeping services, all covered by 24-hour security in the gated residence community.

Benefits are there for college students should they decide to become involved both through internships in the therapies, marketing and administration as well as paying jobs on-site at UBRCs in maintenance and a variety of other activities. The university reaps the benefit of workrelated experiences for their students while residents enjoy an intergenerational, intellectually challenging environment designed to help seniors remain independent as long as possible. In planning and researching this article, I checked with a variety of organizations that provide senior housing in Western New York and I was not able to find any projects of this type locally. Perhaps someone locally will seize this idea and run with it – I think it’s a good one.

How to Look a a House that is For Sale – Part 3 of 3

How to Look at a House That is For Sale– Part 3 of 3

Now for the upstairs- What was your initial impression when you first arrived – fresh and clean or needs some work?  Try to look past the furnishings and personal property; these items will be gone when you get the keys. How are the room sizes? What about the ceiling heights? Are these adequate for your household?  You need to ask yourself –“‘what rooms do you spend the most time in now?”  And “How does this property match up to your current needs…..will this property accommodate me/us over the next 5 to 10 years?”  “What will it be like to have 15 guests in this place?”

Do you like the kitchen and bathroom(s)? Look closely at everything – cabinetry, walls, flooring, fixtures and counter tops?  How much do you feel you will need to change? Since these rooms are the most expensive to overhaul,  it’s smart to have a clear idea of how much you would need to spend to have spaces that you will enjoy.  Is there sufficient storage as well as counter top work spaces? How old are the appliances? The built-ins are in the price so look them over good. Does everything work properly? Do the doors open and close the way they should?

Plan on painting the interior after you buy. It’s a great way to clean and begin to put your stamp on the property. Get a feel for the flooring. Is there hardwood under carpet? Looking in the closets or near the heat ducts is one way of finding out what is underneath. If you want to examine condition, you can also give the seller a deposit and bring in a carpet person to pull back and then reinstall a large area during your home inspection to determine the condition.

Is there wall paper to remove or paneling that “must come down”. Best to make a list of the things you feel you will need to do right away so that you are prepared financially for this purchase.

Finally, prior to purchase, it’s best to hire a state certified home inspector to go through the property with a “fine tooth comb” so that you can have a complete idea of what you are buying.

How to Look at a House that is For Sale – Part 2 of 3

How to Look at a House that is For Sale – Part 2 of 3

A quick look at the first floor doesn’t hurt to see if you want to consider the property further, but my thought process is that it’s best to head for the basement at first opportunity. I think people buy houses with mechanical and/or structural difficulties because they fall in love with the layout and the decorating and in their minds they minimize major problems existing in the lower level that at the time seem less important. I would recommend a scan of the exterior using the checklist I provided in the last article followed by a brief review of the foundation and mechanics in the lower level. When this has been completed, then it’s time to fall in love with the layout and the decorating.

As you walk down the basement stairs tune in all of your senses especially smell and touch. Do you get a damp feeling on your skin or is there a musty odor? Turn every light on that you can find. Begin your examination by looking at all of the walls. If there is paneling or finished walls, find a spot where there is exposed concrete or block foundation.  If you don’t find an inch of actual foundation material to look at, beware – someone could have been trying to conceal something.  If you find horizontal cracking in a block foundation at what would be exterior grade level, this may be cause to move on to the next property. This is a sure sign of movement in the foundation that is expensive to repair. Some folks can deal with repairs like these but for many, this condition or excessive heaving in the basement floor will be a “walk away” factor. In the same breath, I need to tell you that floor to ceiling vertical cracking in poured concrete foundations are fairly common and quite fixable. …not cheap, perhaps $600. to $900. per crack, but not a walk away if you like the rest of the house. Look for staining or buckling near the floor in finished areas or silt residue or water marks on concrete floors to determine if there has been any recurrent standing water over the years.  The bottom line when it comes to basements is developing a sense of smell to differentiate wet from dry.

A few more items to review before going upstairs: Does the furnace look newer or older? The smaller it is usually means the newer it is. Does it look like it has been cleaned on a regular basis? Are there 5 or 10 years of cobwebs or dirt on the furnace and/or hot water tank? Are there tags telling the age? What about the electrical? Are there circuit breakers or fuses? It’s important to note that some older circuit breaker panels, in particular A Federal Pacific product called Stab Lok has come under increased scrutiny due to difficulties others have had with breakers not functioning properly. If you seen a nice clean electrical panel that is fully labeled, this tells you that this property has been owned by an individual who was detail oriented and cared about the property.  This is a strong sign of a property that has been cared for.   Last item before we go upstairs – Is the plumbing copper or galvanized?  If there is galvanized pipe in place, start at the water meter near the pipe where the water comes in the house and visually follow the pipe through the basement.  Are there any junctions or spots on the pipe that are oozing a brown material that looks like it shouldn’t be there? After you go upstairs, it’s a good idea to do a pressure test – particularly on the second floor. Turn on the sink and the tub and then flush the toilet. Does the water pressure stay constant or does it slow down considerably? This is an easy test to perform that will tell you a lot.

Stay tuned  or subscribe to the blog as Part 3 will be published quite soon.

How to Look at a House that is For Sale – Part 1 of 3

It’s important to keep in mind that buying an existing home means taking on some maintenance and repairs. What is critical is learning to differentiate between the property that has been cared for and the one that has been let go. A working knowledge of the degree of care of property has received will make you a much more knowledgeable consumer.

When you arrive at the house, it can be difficult to resist the temptation to walk briskly up to the door and start chatting with the owner or realtor and begin looking inside the home.  Rather. I would recommend developing a five minute mental checklist to give you a brief overview before going inside.  It’s important to remember that the bulk of home maintenance and expense is on the exterior.   With practice, you can accurately run through the following protocol in just a few minutes.

First, get a feel for how the home sits on the lot. Is it flat as many are in western New York and at a comparable elevation as the neighbors or is it “sitting low” or “sitting high” with respect to the others? Is there a drop off in the back or front that will help carry away moisture from the foundation area?

Second, step back and sight along the plane of the roof. Are the shingles laying flat or are they curling on the ends? Are any missing? The best way to develop an eye for this is to examine other roofs close by. It won’t be long before you clearly recognize the newer and the older. Talk to someone who knows and learn the difference between a three-in-one and an architectural roof.  As you look up there, check out the chimney – any missing mortar or loose bricks?  You can get a strong clue about mortar integrity if you see an inconsistent pattern of shading between the bricks. The more you try to grasp these differences, the easier this will become.

Are there gutters and downspouts along all of the roof edges? Are they in their proper place or are they hanging out of alignment? Is the electrical service cable from the house to the pole in good condition or is it cracked and frayed.  If there is a disintegrating cable between the electric meter and the house, the responsibility for replacement will fall on the home owner and will likely kick in regulations that will require additional internal electrical upgrades. What about the windows? Are they low maintenance aluminum or vinyl? Will painting be required to keep them looking good? If there is a brick veneer on the exterior, are there any irregularities in the mortar pattern? If so, this may indicate shifting in the foundation.  What about the driveway? Is it smooth or cracked and heaving?  Does it slope away or towards the house? What about the garage – standing straight or leaning?  You really can learn to do this exterior review in a matter of minutes.

Developing a strong, working knowledge of what you are looking at will assist you in making a better decision when the time is right. Once you have performed this brief overview, it’s time to go inside.  Stay tuned  or subscribe to the blog as Part 2 will be published quite soon.