The stereotype of an empty nester downsizing and buying a small patio home is long gone. Realtor Kristin Malfer says today’s empty nesters don’t necessarily want less space; they want better use of space. “For a lot of buyers, downsizing means right-sizing,” she says. “They still want a spectacular home but one that is no longer kid focused. Amenities, walkability and maintenance-free living are all high priorities.” Builder Kirk Wulff says downsizers are actually looking for an upgrade in their living conditions. “The term I would give this group is downsizing upgraders,” he says.
Dave & Shawna Brandli
The Brandlis started their marriage by taking on a tear-down. Dave and Shawna met after each of them had lost a spouse to cancer. They had both raised their families in Prairie Village and wanted to stay in the area. When a home that backed up to the Indian Hills Country Club golf course came on the market, they loved the lot. But the 1955 ranch? Not so much. They saw tearing down the house as an opportunity to build a home that would fit their lifestyle. “We wanted to build a home we could age in, and we wanted a home that was designed for adults,” Dave says. One of the couple’s favorite features is the large master suite with a dressing room. Shawna calls the house efficient but cozy. “We love it,” she says. “It’s the perfect space for us.”
Median house price: $309,200
Change in 2018: +9.6%
It was the ultimate tear down two years ago when the 136-acre Meadowbrook Golf and Country Club was demolished to become a housing development featuring villas, single family homes, and a senior living complex in a park-like setting. Today, construction is well underway and realtor Sheri Dyer says Meadowbrook Park is becoming a destination for people reimagining their lifestyle. The Twin Villas that feature first floor master suites, back entry garages and maintenance-free living are beckoning downsizers with square footage that ranges from 2,000 to 5,000 square feet. Realtor Sharon Barry says the attraction of Meadowbrook is the Prairie Village location coupled with new construction and expansive green space. The price for a villa starts in the low $800,00s and can exceed $1 million.
Median condo price: $188,000
Change in 2018: +11%
The River Market and Crossroads Arts District are some of the hottest condo markets in Kansas City. Realtor Christina Boveri says baby boomers are shedding their McMansions for downtown living that offers walkability, entertainment and fantastic restaurants. These boomers aren’t sacrificing living space or skimping. Last year, a 4,500-square-foot condo at Conover Place in the River Market sold for more than a million dollars.
Realtor Paul Clem was the listing agent on that condo, and he knows the downtown market well. Two years ago, right after their last child graduated high school, Clem and his wife sold their 5,000-square-foot Overland Park home and bought a 3,000-square-foot condo in the River Market. The realtor says he loves living downtown and jokes, “You’ll have to drag me out toes up.”
Boveri says most baby boomers are shunning large condo properties and opting for smaller buildings with character. Currently, condos downtown are selling for $210 to $240 per square foot.
Median House Price: $203,900
Change in 2018: +12.7%
Master-planned communities in Liberty have been growing rapidly over the past five years. These homes are ideal for the downsizer who covets suburban living but wants a newer home with less maintenance. Developments like the Village in Shoal Creek Valley are seeing an increase in buyers who want newer construction with less hassle. Faith McMeans, who markets the Village, says the pull of maintenance-free living in an intergenerational community, along with the proximity to amenities such as shopping and walking trails, is a big draw. A two-bedroom, two-bath, new-construction home goes for less than $250,000.
Closer to the airport, realtor Chris Cribb says neighborhoods like the Villas at Tiffany Greens, which provide open-concept living on one level and offer a maintenance-free lifestyle, check off all the boxes on a downsizer’s list. “We see a lot of downsizers going for new builds on a single level with entertaining areas that include some sort of patio or deck,” Cribb says. “Entertaining space is still very important.” You can buy a three-bedroom, four-bath villa on the Tiffany Green golf course for under $400,000. A two-bed, two-bath, new-construction home goes for less than $250,000.
Median house price: $501,800
Change in 2018: +7.5%
Leawood is seeing a surge in new construction of homes for discerning downsizers. Realtor Sara Powell-Moody says the Leawood Enclaves at Highland Glen embrace the “age in place” trend. “It’s still luxury living, but it’s practical, with zero-step entry into the home and showers, elevators and wider doors and hallways that can accommodate a wheelchair or walker down the road,” she says. Also, 33 villas, which vary in size from 2,800 to 4,000 square feet, are being built in Hallbrook and are geared toward empty nesters. Their anticipated price tag is in the mid-$800,000s to upwards of $1.3 million.