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A boom in boomer housing

Developers see growth in adult communities

BROWNSTOWN TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- Michigan probably isn't on the short list for most active seniors looking to buy a retirement home, but thanks to the increasing efforts of big home builders, formerly out-of-the-way states now are in play for 78 million baby boomers who are reaching their golden years. They are drawn to housing developments packed with homes, golf courses, walking trails, and community centers.

And as the prices of homes in traditional retirement areas have become more expensive, many older adults are choosing to live in the community-oriented developments in their home state.

Such developments -- known as ``active adult" communities -- typically are in destination states such as Florida, Nevada, and California, but Pulte Homes Inc. is opening similar communities across the nation with plans to build 100 of them in 24 states by 2008.

``It's no longer a fringe component," said Pulte's Dave Schreiner. ``It's really become a central part of meeting the needs of the home-buying public."

Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based Pulte, the nation's number two home builder by units, says it should record significant growth in its active adult sales, despite cutting full-year forecasts last month due to rising interest rates and other hints of a cooling housing market.

With a steady stream of baby boomers living longer, the market for these communities is accelerating to an all-time high, Schreiner said.

Del Webb, Pulte's active adult brand, represented 39 percent of the 45,630 total units sold by the home builder last year, up from 33 percent in 2004. Pulte acquired Arizona-based Del Webb Corp. in 2001, when the two companies combined had only 15 active adult communities open for sale in seven states.

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