When Rossmoor Leisure World in Laguna Hills opened in 1964, a buyer could purchase a one- or two-bedroom co-op apartment for as little as $9,000, with a down payment of just $1,500. Today, those same apartments range in price from $40,000 to $120,000, with condominiums ranging from $60,000 to $600,000.
There have been no new units sold at Leisure World since 1981, with resales handled by independent brokers. One company that only sells homes in the retirement community, Leisure World Resales, handles about 1,000 units a year. The specifics of buying into Leisure World depend on the type of dwelling unit.
The buyer of a one- or two-bedroom co-op apartment is actually purchasing a membership certificate that confers the right to occupy the unit. The original 40-year mortgage (now in its 25th year) on each property is held by a mutual corporation, United Laguna Hills Mutual, which also makes policy governing the dwelling units. Until last year, buyers of resale units had to pay the entire purchase price in cash, but because of rising prices financing was made available (to a maximum of 75% of the value of the home, which combines the selling price and the loan balance on the original mortgage).
Fees: A monthly fee of about $350 to $500 includes principal, interest and taxes, in addition to exterior maintenance, landscaping and recreational activities. Some other services may be included, depending on the unit.
Requirements: Buyers must be able to prove at least $75,000 in assets (in addition to the Leisure World home being purchased) and a minimum annual income of $18,000 for one person, $21,600 for two.
The buyer of a condominium is buying real property, and the procedures are much the same as they are for any piece of property. Leisure World Resales reports that 65% of its customers pay cash for condominiums, with the remainder financing their purchase.
Fees: Monthly fees of $225 to $300 cover exterior maintenance, landscaping and recreational activities. Fees in “The Towers,” which include interior cleaning and food services, can range considerably higher.
Requirements: Buyers must be able to prove a minimum annual income of $18,000 for one person, $21,600 for two.
Some residents or owners sublet their homes. For information on available units, call the Leisure World leasing department at (714) 837-9110.
At least one person occupying a unit must be 55 years old. Others must be at least 45 years old excepting spouses and medical or financial care providers.
Guests are permitted to visit residents in the community but cannot stay in Leisure World for more than 60 days in a calendar year.
Sources: Leisure World Resales (an independent broker); Leisure World.