Manny Gonzalez – This May Be the Last Home These Folks Buy, But It Sure Isn’t Their First

Wall Street Journal

November 30, 2016

Demand for affordable housing in the 55-plus market is high, but stressing low prices is rarely a good idea when selling the product, according to Manny Gonzalez, FAIA, managing principal of the Los Angeles office of KTGY Architecture + Planning. He remarks that older home buyers are frequently willing to spend to get just what they want. Services, he says, will go a lot farther to sell homes than a low price.

“This may be the last home these folks buy,” he says, “but it sure isn’t their first. They know what they want and what they’re willing to pay. It’s interesting to see how much buyers are willing to spend in upgrades to flooring, appliances, and cabinets. This is their chance to get the kitchen and master suite they always wanted.”

On the other hand, says Mr. Gonzalez, a lack of affordable housing for the elderly has to be addressed. With “big box” retail losing popularity, Mr. Gonzalez sees opportunities to repurpose those buildings to provide reasonably priced housing near supermarkets and drugstores.

“We see a lot of very attractive opportunities for repurposing buildings like hotels and hospitals for active adult rental and assisted living and memory care communities,” he says. “We’re currently working on one of each.

“The biggest challenge comes when the existing building is a hospital that looks like one,” he says. “No senior resident wants to move into an institution, and nobody wants to move their parent into one. But these older buildings that are being repurposed are often in locations that provide the shopping and entertainment amenities residents are looking for.”