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June 2021

Savvy developers attract buyers with health and wellness amenities

June 7, 2021

"Family friendliness" remains the top focus for developers of master-planned communities, but a new survey indicates "health and wellness" amenities are becoming increasingly important.

The New Homes Trends Institute at John Burns Real Estate Consulting reported the once-prolific "resort lifestyle" is being unseated as the second-most important focal point.

Researchers from the Institute reported 76% of homeowners who were surveyed said they are taking more steps to promote their physical health compared to last year. For developers, the Burns consultants say this shift is "creating a surging emphasis on connection to nature, fitness, sustainability, and local food sources."

Savvy developers will go beyond trails and a lap pool, "which have become ordinary," suggest the experts from Burns. Its New Home Trends Institute outlined four ways innovative builders could accommodate the emerging desires:

  1. Immersion into nature. Successful master plans are offering exciting outdoor adventures that bring wilderness to suburbia. Among examples, they cite the "Fish Camp Dock" in Pomona (located in Manvel, Texas); a stargazing amphitheater in Headwaters (in Dripping Springs, Texas); and "The Campout" in Esencia, a community within Rancho Mission Viejo (in San Juan Capistrano, California).
  2. Integrating healthcare into community. Telehealth was growing pre-pandemic in response to consumer demand for convenient health services. Authors of the "Trends" report showcased Lake Nona in Orlando, Florida for making a healthy lifestyle easy "with purposeful integration of collaborative health care, research, and academic establishments into the community."
  3. Connection and community. Nearly seven of ten homeowners (69%) told researchers they are taking more steps to promote their mental health when compared to last year. To address loneliness -- a contributing factor to poor mental health -- developers are creating welcome centers that support interaction between current and future residents (akin to a coffee shop) and plenty of "connection nodes" to promote frequent, informal gatherings.
  4. Reinvestments in sustainable healthy food sources are another way successful developers are responding to priorities around health and wellness. Homeowners are shunning processed foods in favor of "natural" and locally sourced products. Amenities that support a healthy diet, like community crop-share programs and farm-to-table dining options, will fare well, according to experts from the Burns firm. A five acre "agrihood" called Arden's Community Farm and Barn in south Florida provides residents with organically grown produce, herbs and flowers year-round and sells any surplus at an onsite Farm Store. It was recognized with a Gold Award for "Best Amenity" at a prestigious national competition presented by the National Association of Home Builders.

In its "Top 50" master planned communities report for 2020, John Burns Real Estate tallied more than 37,000 home purchases, up 31% from 2019. Six master planned projects logged sales of 1,000 new homes or more during 2020. Tehaleh, a Newland Communities development in Bonney Lake near Tacoma, reported 447 sales last year, earning the distinction of being the only master planned project in Washington to make the "top 50" best-selling list.