Most mornings, while we are staying in Tanglewood, we hop on our bikes and do a couple of hour bike ride around the entire 350 acre project.
The thousands of modular homes all pretty much look the same. While they come in one, two or three bedroom models and you can see they’ve changed their design a bit over the years they all have their pastel colored vinyl siding, carports and mini garages for the golf carts. While the little boxes are all alike, there is a difference in the many For Sale signs that adorn them. We didn’t count,it’s just a guess, but we think the signs number in the thousands.
Imagine back when they were developing this park: Money was free and easy, and of course real estate was viewed as a great investment. You could buy your dream home in beautiful sunny Florida for less than $200,000 and enjoy your sunset years while you played your favorite games and lived the good life with all your friends. Plus with all the baby boomers coming up behind you, there would always be a ready market for your dream home. Never mind the life-style, the investment opportunities were almost guaranteed. I can just see the folks lining up, eagerly nodding their heads in agreement as they waited in line to get their dream property before the project sold out.
Fast forward 10 or 15 years. Down here the economy is in the tank, the boomers are still getting older but their investments haven’t done all that well either. The 50 and 60 somethings that bought in are now in their 70’s, 80 and beyond. For many reasons, most attached to health or lack there-of, they are moving out. There is almost no one to take their place.
When Mom and Dad die, they leave the “dream home” they couldn’t sell to the kids. The kids aren’t ready to move in next to a park full of old folks yet, all they see is the monthly lease fees (the folks bought the house and agreed to pay the park what ever the park thought was fair for their monthly lease in perpetuity) sucking up their inheritance When I googled “for sale in Tanglewood” one of the local banks came up early on the list with a huge list of foreclosures, so from the kid’s point of view the sooner they can get rid of it the better. Suddenly, that perfect investment is worth 5% or less of what Grampa and Grandma paid for it if that.
Apparently negotiations with the kids often come down to “Well what would you give me for it?”
We tell this story from our view in Tanglewood, Sebring, Florida but this is not a story about Tanglewood, or Sebring or Florida. This is a story about investing your money in dream retirement projects where ever you may be. Let me be clear; I’m not picking on real estate, I am picking on projects where you buy the dream, the pretty vinyl clad box, the dream RV lot or the apartment and the regular monthly lease payment for the rest of your life plus the life of your kids and their kids. Be careful my friends!
Maybe, before you put your money down you too should do a leisurely bike ride around all the circles.
“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” – Benjamin Franklin