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Del Webb Launches Online Tools to Improve Retirement Planning

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Del Webb, part of the Bloomfield Hills-based Pulte Group of builders, said Thursday it had launched online tools to help people make better decisions about their retirement.

Del Webb builds housing communities for people 55 and older. Webb officials say that today, retirement increasingly means some level of work, along with home downsizing and a geographic move — so they’ve gathered together information like a cost of living calcualtor, information on home appreciation, taxes by state and job opportunities for Boomers.

Key components of the data are provided through partnerships with Bestplaces.net and the Retirement Living Information Center, Inc. Both entities have long histories in providing information to people seeking “smart retirement” decisions.

“Having Del Webb combine these sets of data in one easy location will tremendously help people become much more educated about the many elements that go into making decisions about what retirement options you have,” said Bert Sperling, founder and president of Portland, Ore.-based Bestplaces.net.

As part of its arsenal of retirement planning tools, DelWebb.com/value uses Sperling’s cost of living calculator — a top Google destination providing information on property taxes, income tax, utilities and more.

“Once people retire, many do not have as much control of their income as they’re accustomed to and need to stretch their dollars as much as possible,” Sperling said. “This new Del Webb site can help provide some smart retirement options that folks might not have considered.”

Del Webb’s most recent Baby Boomer Survey revealed optimism in the 55-plus market, with 33 percent of the respondents saying they are likely to buy a home within the next four years. The likelihood of buying skyrockets to nearly 66 percent of Baby Boomers purchasing a home in the next two years if economic and financial barriers were removed, said Deborah Meyer, chief marketing officer for Del Webb’s parent company, PulteGroup.

“The Boomer survey told us that people want more comprehensive information to make smart retirement decisions,” Meyer said. “We created this one-stop shop web tool to help people who want to take that next step in making a life change. Understanding that information seems to be the key to removing what often are only perceived barriers.”

Meyer said now is a better time to sell than most people think, especially for those people who have owned their home for more than seven years. In fact, the percentage of Baby Boomers planning to use equity from their current home to help finance retirement has not changed in the past 15 years, according Del Webb Baby Boomer Surveys polled in 1996 and 2010. In both surveys 23 percent said they plan to use their home equity for retirement.

“With more than 78 million people aged 55 or older by 2014, their interest level and likelihood to purchase a home in the next several years may be a key component in leading the housing industry toward recovery. Many economists and new builders expect people 55+ to capture at least 25 percent of the total housing market,” Meyer said.

Del Webb consumer research also found that people thinking about a move wanted to hear from “real people” about their experiences, Meyer said. The DelWebb.com/value resource includes testimonials from active adults talking about the home they sold, why they moved and describing the emotional side of a move, she said.

Obtaining information on job opportunities and tax information is also important to many people considering a move, said E. Thomas Wetzel, president and founder of the Redding, Conn.-based Retirement Living Information Center. DelWebb.com/value includes Wetzel’s data on the site.

“This is the only database with this kind of comprehensive tax information on the web,” Wetzel said, adding that the data answers common questions, such as whether a specific state taxes pensions and social security income. “A pre-retiree can compare the tax laws of where they are currently living with laws in states where they are considering moving to. This definitely helps ease the unknown, which is so important in facilitating a move.”

Del Webb communities began with the original Sun City, which opened outside Phoenix, Ariz. in 1960, and have grown to include more than 50 communities currently open for new home sales in 21 states.

More at  www.DelWebb.com, www.bestplaces.net or www.retirementliving.com.

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