Real estate developers offer choices to baby boomers


By Margot B. Birke

The baby boomers are coming and real estate developers and health care providers are rushing to fill the desires and needs of this fiercely independent generation accustomed to choice.

The increased value of real estate (even after the bubble burst), has resulted in nest eggs never dreamed of by most folks. Unfortunately, we are living longer than any previous generation and must plan financially and medically for our extended lives.

A major new style of communal living has emerged called Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) that offer the full range of residential services from independent living arrangements to long-term custodial nursing home care.

New residents are required to pay an entry fee, some portion of which may be returned either to his or her estate or to the resident if he or she moves within a specified period of time. Eligibility for new residents is generally based on age, financial assets, income level and physical health and mobility. Residents are usually expected to move into a CCRC while they are still independent and able to care for themselves.

In addition to the initial entry fee, there are monthly rent and maintenance fees. In exchange, the resident should have the security of knowing that whatever the condition of his or her health, the facility has an appropriate living arrangement into which he or she can move.

When deciding which facility would best suit your needs, there are questions you should be asking: Are the services and amenities offered by the facility in keeping with my interests and abilities? What is included and what is not covered by the admission and monthly fees? What will trigger the need to move from independent living to assisted living or nursing home care? What is my ability to pay?

In addition, what is the type of ownership offered? There are condominium, cooperative, rental or endowment model communities. The condominium and cooperative models are most like traditional home ownership. If you purchase a condominium, you own your apartment and are free to sell whenever you choose. Residents pay a monthly condominium fee that will cover specified amenities and services.

In the cooperative model, a corporation holds title to the community and the residents purchase shares of stock and receive a proprietary lease for an apartment.  In congregate living arrangements, the resident rents a unit from the landlord similar to the traditional landlord tenant model. In the endowment model, the CCRC owns the residential units and the common facilities. Residents pay an up front entrance fee as well as monthly fees.

The contract should include a complete description of all fees due from the resident and the circumstances under which these fees can be increased, what services are covered, the rights and obligations of the resident and the circumstances under which the resident would be required to leave the community.

Before signing on the dotted line, consult with a qualified elder law attorney and have him or her review all of the documents.

Margot G. Birke is the founder and President of Elder Law Solutions located in Newburyport, Massachusetts. She may be reached at 978-465-5407 or Archives of articles from previous issues can be read at