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A Proper Introduction: Communities Are Thriving, and Lodging Helps Showcase Their Full Appeal

Gated-community clubs across the country have been one of the leading beneficiaries of the pandemic’s effect on lifestyles. This is happening in all regions across the

U.S.—from expected areas like Florida, coastal Carolina and the desert communities in Arizona and California, to unexpected ones like the Bitterroot Valley of Montana, northern Michigan, and interior (New Hampshire) and coastal New England.

In recent surveys in these areas, McMahon Group research has found that about one-third of homeowners in these communities moved in during the pandemic. This has injected energy and capital into the system. In a world where new members beget new members, it is likely this growth can be sustained for years to come.

About one-third of homeowners in gated-community clubs moved in during the pandemic
Source: McMahon Group


Some of the key drivers behind these moves have included:

  • Fear. Safety and security have long been the No. 1 reason people choose to buy homes in a gated community. The pandemic has accentuated this desire as people became anxious about both their health and the direction of the country. Some have a sense that the country’s social fabric is unraveling and believe this has manifested itself in declining safety in our cities. The country’s large urban centers have lost population since 2015, and the pandemic pushed more people to seek private enclaves.
  • Remote Work. Estimates are that some 30% to 40% of people now work in industries that allow remote work. While offices are beginning to reopen and many influential executives want workers back in the office, many people are resisting that notion, especially millennials. In a recent survey, corporate recruiters at Indeed reported seven-fold demand for jobs that allow remote work. This means the makeup of gated communities is no longer only the retired or soon-to-be-retired Baby Boomer. Younger people are making the choice to live where they want and structure work arrangements that fit their priorities.
  • Resources: People have the funds to invest in second homes or relocate from their primary residences. American consumers now have more than $2 trillion more in assets (home values, cash and investments) than they had prior to the pandemic. They are ready to invest those dollars in communities that will effectively facilitate their new lives.

Along with amenities that support active lifestyles, it is important that community clubs offer lodging opportunities to serve as an introduction to life behind the gates. These could include guest rooms in the clubhouse or club-owned cottages that allow short-term stays.

Offering lodging can also include smart rental policies. As communities age, existing residents may often push back against renters. Proper policies, such as minimum-stay policies, higher price points, clear rules and effective security, can overcome this trepidation.It is in the best interests of existing homeowners to let potential buyers experience all available amenities in a community as an enticement to also becoming part of it. So a holistic strategy for rental opportunities is an important element of communities’ success.