Is Payson Too Gray?


Recently, the Wall Street Journal ran an article concerning the sales slowdown of so-called retirement or active adult communities.

In particular, they mentioned that Sun City Grand in Surprise lowered their minimum age from 55 to 45 to stimulate sales.

Children under 19 are still not allowed.

Even the age-restricted communities are discovering that they need a younger base in order to survive and maintain housing prices.

Since my hair gets grayer every week, it got me thinking about Payson and the long term viability of our housing market and community.

Payson, of course, does not have any age restrictions, but you need only go to the supermarket or the bank to realize that our area has an older population.

So here’s what the research tells us:

According to the 2000 census, Payson’s 65 and older residents make up 29.2 percent (almost one-third) of our population.

This is 16.85 percent higher than the national average.

Unfortunately, statistics were not available for age 55 and older, which would be interesting.

Next, the research took me to our schools.

In 2000, our Payson schools had an enrollment of 2,843 versus today’s enrollment which is 2,496, a decline of 12.2 percent. Pine Elementary had an enrollment decrease of 38 percent.

If you had any doubt that we are getting grayer, the school enrollment figures should be a wake-up call.

Typically, adults with children in school are a community’s work force.

You cannot directly glean from the statistics if our work force is shrinking, but it is implied.

What does this mean for housing?

Should we ask ourselves where the buyer for your home is coming from and what message we are sending to potential future buyers of your home?

A recent Payson Roundup article illustrated our Payson business community is shrinking.

The graying effect is also a challenge for Payson’s businesses. As we get gray, we tend to spend and purchase fewer goods. How will the retail industry survive? How will the increase of empty storefronts and our town’s presentation affect our housing prices and appreciation?

What message was sent to families by turning down a school bond issue and a YMCA?

Who are the younger people who will buy the homes and what incentives and employment are we providing for them to come here?

Can we continue to depend on only those with gray hair to be the primary category buyer of our homes in the future?

Ray Pugel is a designated broker for Coldwell Banker Bishop Realty. Contact him at (928) 474-2216.


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