Nation’s Biggest Homebuilder Seizes on Senior Housing Opportunity

The nation’s biggest homebuilder has expanded its business to offer affordable age-restricted housing for adults who want to remain at home as they age.

While the company is not overtly positioning itself as a competitor to senior living communities, the move signals another company seizing a business opportunity in helping people stay in single-family dwellings as they get older—which the vast majority of adults state is their preference.

D.R. Horton, Inc. (NYSE: DHI) has entered the affordable housing space with Freedom Homes, which will initially offer homes in Florida, Texas, and Arizona. The company, which has a market cap of more than $12 billion and has closed 38,638 homes in 78 markets across 26 states, expects to open Freedom Homes communities in at least eight markets by the end of 2016 and in approximately one-third of its operating markets by the end of fiscal year 2017.

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The company has introduced the brand in Houston; Tucson, Arizona; and central Florida. All are areas in states with many retirees, Jessica Hansen, vice president of communications with D.R. Horton, told Senior Housing News. The company anticipates expanding to other regions within those three states, as well as North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, New Jersey, and Illinois. 

“After introducing our Express Homes brand in the spring of 2014, we began noticing the popularity of our entry-level product with empty-nesters and the baby boomer generation,” Hansen told SHN. “Although we’ve offered numerous communities that have appealed to active adult and retiree buyers, historically, only a very small percentage of our offerings have been age-restricted.”

The affordable homes are an alternative to senior living communities and are viewed by buyers as homes where they will live during retirement.

“For our Express Homes brand in Florida, a significant percentage of our buyers are investing in what they classify as their last home,” Hansen said.

However, the company doesn’t see itself as a direct competitor to senior living communities that also offer health care services and also has no future plans to offer senior living options that include assisted living or memory care.

“Freedom Homes is focused on providing an affordable housing option for the active, independent adult,” Hansen told SHN. “Since we are targeting a different segment of the senior market, we do not foresee competing with senior living centers.”

Across the company, D.R. Horton offers a few different housing types, with sale prices ranging from $100,000 to more than $1 million, in addition to mortgage financing and titles services for homebuyers through its mortgage and title subsidiaries. 

“Prices [for Freedom Homes] will vary across markets, but we are focused on providing homes that are affordable in comparison to the current inventory available in each respective area,” Hansen said. 

The Freedom Homes will be primarily single-story homes within low-maintenance, age-restricted communities designed for active adults. Many of the communities will likely be gated, Hansen told SHN. 

Written by Amy Baxter

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