The Kenwood by Senior Star has seen a dramatic increase in leasing activity in 2013, a development that mirrors a similar uptick in the real estate market.
Typically, residents elect to sell their existing homes before moving into a retirement community. Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors® reported that the July 2013 housing marketing in Cincinnati increased by 30 percent from July 2012 – the 25th consecutive month of increased sales.
“We’re definitely benefiting from an improving housing market,” said Tom Rotz, executive director of The Kenwood. “We’re hearing from our new residents that homes are selling. In the past two years, more than 100 of our 215 independent-living apartments have been leased.”
In addition, Rotz said The Kenwood’s health services apartments are nearly 100 percent occupied while the occupancy rate in independent living units is approximately 60 percent.
“We’ve experienced a constant request for our health service apartments since last fall,” Rotz added.
It appears the improving market is a national trend as well. Realtor.com states that in July 2013, the national housing market experienced about a five percent decline in housing inventory. And, national median list prices increased about five percent year-over-year.
Ralph Davidow, independent living resident, was among the first residents to move into The Kenwood, and he’s seen the growth firsthand.
“I make it a point to talk to all the new residents, and there are certainly a lot of them,” he said. “Some have been waiting for their homes to sell for months. It just seems like everything started happening a few months ago. It’s great to have so many new neighbors.”
“Since July 2013, we’ve had an average of three move-ins a week,” said Nancy Grant, move-in coordinator for The Kenwood. “This is unusually high for average senior living communities.”
With a community full of residents and a steady flow of tours coming through, Rotz is looking forward to a successful year in 2014.
“This is really just the beginning for us,” Rotz said. “We’re excited about the momentum and the wonderful residents that are pouring in.”
Although the improving market has certainly been a factor in The Kenwood’s success, it has not been the only one. Grant, for example, is responsible for ensuring that new residents have a smooth, hassle-free transition to The Kenwood, a good illustration of the service-oriented nature of the community. Grant helps residents with everything from scheduling a moving company and setting up their new apartment home, even acting as a go between with residents’ interior designers, to counsel on downsizing from their old home and forwarding mail and subscriptions.
Grant continually encourages residents to take their time. “We understand how stressful and overwhelming moving can be,” Grant said. “It is a big decision to relocate to a community and we want residents to feel comfortable and at ease during the process.”
According to Grant, many residents lived in their homes for 30 or more years, so the task of moving from a cherished home with decades of memories, can be a big undertaking. “Lately, we’re seeing new residents move into The Kenwood and then put their home up for sale,” she says. “It certainly makes the process easier.”
One of The Kenwood’s newest residents, Mellen Kolb, took that advice. She decided to move into The Kenwood, and then sell her previous home. “It was the best decision I ever made,” Kolb says. “It gave me the time I needed to evaluate and select the items to perfectly suit my new living space. I couldn’t be happier.”
Once they are moved in, Grant and the rest of the staff work to integrate the new residents into The Kenwood family. She even goes so far as to share a photo with current residents and staff of their new neighbor before their move in, so they can recognize them upon arrival.
Another key to The Kenwood’s success is the scope of its programming and services. Developed in concert with residents, The Kenwood offers weekly programs in creative writing and water color classes, an Arthritis Foundation certified aquatics class, chair yoga, bridge club and a variety of history lessons with an instructor from the University of Cincinnati’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), to name a few.
“It’s vital that the programming and events we offer revolve around our residents and the activities that intrigue them,” said Rotz. “I think this organic, ever-changing approach to planning allows us to meet the physical and mental needs of each individual living at The Kenwood.”
And one person couldn’t agree more: Mike Myers, director of sales and marketing at The Kenwood, who has worked passionately to tell the community’s story for the past two years. “We feel like one of the best kept secrets in Cincinnati is finally out,” Myers says. “And we couldn’t be happier watching our residents love and experience life in their new community.”
This article originally ran in the American Israelite, September 25 edition.