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Homebuilders pin hopes on retiring Baby Boomers

The current housing-bust survival strategy for many Phoenix-area homebuilders leans heavily on a generation with the word "boom" in its name. With relatively few working-age families willing or able to invest in a new home, older Baby Boomers, many of whom are in retirement or eyeing it, represent the best hope for some local homebuilders to keep busy. Developers have spent the past few decades refining the concept of paradise for a key segment of retirees and empty-nesters who crave a balance of relaxation and excitement. It's called the "active-adult lifestyle." The Valley's dozen active-adult communities under development are designed for them - a fusion of safe, quiet neighborhood and ritzy country club with golf courses, health spas and multipurpose clubhouses offering exercise classes, sports, games, arts, crafts and other activities. As in the rest of the new-home market, sales are down dramatically in active-adult communities since the housing slump began. But Jim Belfiore, a Phoenix-based housing analyst, said the active-adult market has shrunk only half as fast as the rest of the new-home market. The new-home market share belonging to age-restricted communities has doubled since 2005 in metro Phoenix, to 10 percent from 5 percent, Belfiore said.

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