Friendly introductions, coffee, nametags, picture-taking, and co-op home-hopping, all with much anticipation and excitement. Think college freshman orientation, but way better – 62 years of age or better to be exact. It’s all part of the process as the future residents of Applewood Pointe in Eagan see their new homes for the first time during the buyer walks.
As a cooperative community is nearing completion, United Properties and partners conduct eight days of buyer walks. During this critical stage of the buyer experience, project partners from Applewood Pointe, United Properties, and Weis Builders join the buyers with a detailed checklist to examine each of the units, confirm “options” (e.g., upgrades like granite countertops, hardwood floors, dark wood cabinets), and ensure quality. Each walk lasts two and a half hours.
“Each room is reviewed for cosmetic and functional imperfections several times,” said Residential Project Manager Lynn Mattioli. “It’s a big deal because the future residents actually own a share of this property, and that’s something many of them are proud of.” Lynn represents United Properties as the developer working with general contractor Weis Builders. She serves as an important liaison between these parties and the new buyers.
“This is going to be a fun group – it’s a really social bunch,” said Applewood Pointe Sales Manager Trudi Whitson. “It’s actually the only new resident group that got a social community together before we facilitated it. They call themselves the APES: Applewood Pointe Eagan Social. They’ve been meeting for months and don’t move in until this summer.”
“Our new friend Randy and his wife Debbie just took it on themselves to start gathering our third-floor neighbors’ contacts and getting things rolling,” future resident Andy Blaho shared. “We have meetings once a month where you come if you want to come. You see 30-40 people show up for lunch just to gab. It’s pretty cool!”
Once a week for eight weeks after move-in, United Properties staff host more structured coffee socials with the residents to get them acquainted and educated on everything from how to use the appliances to making the most of the amenities. United Properties senior management serve as the co-op board until the loans close and residents are settled and trained in their elected roles.
“We do help create structure based on residents’ interests,” Trudi shared. “We ask residents if they’re interested in the craft room or the hobby shop or the library. We gather those people’s information and share it with others who have similar interests. They often form committees from there, and it’s all run by an elected board of five, which operates on a budget with HUD [U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development] oversight. After we step away, it’s all maintained by the people who live here.”
This sense of ownership within a cohesive, controlled community seems to be a draw for many Baby Boomers looking to downsize.
“We looked at lots of places, not all of them were co-ops,” Andy said. “Condos, too, and these were nice places. More square footage than this and less expensive, but there’s no sense of community in those places. Here, everybody is 62 or older, and everybody comes from professions for the most part, so you already have a lot in common. Most people come here to stay active and connected – everyone is ready to meet new people in the same stage of life.”
Andy and his wife, Dee, weren’t planning to move in the short-term, but they received a mailer two years ago, saw “maintenance-free” and thought they would check it out. Dee shared their thinking behind the decision to downsize to a co-op instead of a townhouse after living in their home for over 30 years:
“It’s a different chapter for us, and we don’t have as much in common with young professionals or people with children – the more diverse residents you see living in townhomes. It can be more difficult to meet people and develop those close relationships when they’re off to work or school functions. What we’re looking for now is a broader sense of belonging with peers who are excited to contribute to the community we are all part-owners in. We want to enjoy this time together before we have to move to the nursing home.”
The opportunities to bump into neighbors while enjoying the amenities are what make co-op life appealing for those entering their golden years – again, like freshman year when everyone is settling into their social circles (just less stress and more fun). “They have Thirsty Thursdays and coffee every morning. They have a pool table downstairs, and in the back there’s going to be bocce courts and a putting green,” Andy shared. “It’s a social thing more than anything. When I go, I want my wife to have friends around her.”