A cottage often conjures up visions of a tiny little house from the pre-war era on a tree lined street in a quaint town or even in a big city. In fact many retirees consider buying and older cottage type house as they are often located close to services and the smaller space is easier to maintain. Lower prices don't hurt either. But what if someone wants the cottage experience but not the downside to an 80 year old house. Often those older homes are functionally obsolete. Well it seems the market may be rising to the demand.
Recently a local builder here in Clark County, Washington starting a subdivision of "cottages." Quail Homes has a small community of "cottages" on small lots in Vancouver, WA. Now this is not their first go at this type of development, in fact they had a very successful similar development back in the 1990s. But these are aimed at the empty nest market. Active adult living. Although 'Quail Cottages' is not a senior living over 55 community, the homes are designed as low maintenance, small yard with a small but well designed living space.
The reason I find this as a refreshing approach is the demand for such housing is enormous. Most builders are trying to pack in as much square footage as they can and that is fine and well, but it leaves retirees on the downsize wagon in the cold, looking at 20 year-old resale properties. Let's face it for builders the 3000 square foot two story is much more profitable.
Now first off, these "cottages" are not as small as one might 'conjure' in that 'vision' I mentioned earlier. These homes are in fact roughly 1400-1500 square feet. These are homes that are a little more narrow so they fit on a 50 foot wide lot. You know like the lots of yesteryear. The yards are not as large as a home designed to support a family of four on a 60-80 foot wide lot. There is however a nice yard that one can have an pleasant outdoor experience with out a one hour weekly lawn mowing experience.
The advantage to this design for retirees is that a 20-30 year-old resale home will have more maintenance issues than a brand new home. For people looking to find their last house, a new home makes sense. There is no need to worry about the roof, furnace and other expensive replacement items as the home is new and those items are generally expected to deliver decades of use.
I don't want this blog post to sound like an ad for Quail Cottages, but this is a bit of a unique development and one that is much needed in our area. Their are several senior community builders like Trilogy homes that build sprawling adult living communities with a golf and country club atmosphere. That's all fine and well, but those homes are often expensive and routinely have a steep HOA fee.
Projects like the Quail Cottages in Vancouver offer much of the advantages of those more plush developments but with a price tag that is much more affordable. The cottages in this article are selling at start values in the upper $300's and the homes are very nicely equipped and trimmed with high grade finishes. I also am researching a project from Manor Homes that appears to be similar to the "cottages" so I'll update that in a later post sometime.
I am looking forward to seeing more new projects that cater to this increasingly large empty nest / retiree crowd here in no-income tax Washington State.