More Homes Needed for old Buyers
A new report has highlighted the issues facing older home buyers, as the industry focuses too much on first-time buyers and tends to ignore the requirements of this other key market, which can have implications across the sector.
The Knight Frank report analysed information obtained through the Elderly Accommodation Counsel (EAC) and concluded that too much of the focus from UK housing policy-makers is towards the bottom end of the housing ladder and specifically at helping first-time property owners.
There has been an under-supply of property within the UK for a number of years, but we should be considering the variety of properties that are required and the needs of specific demographics as opposed to simply building more homes.
The HAPPI 3 report, which was recently released by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Housing and Care for Older People, gave local authorities the task of considering the age of potential buyers when they draw up the plans for their area rather than just the number of properties they are building.
The EAC data shows that about 715,000 homes are currently deemed to be retirement properties, which vary from age-restricted houses to close-care developments. This works out at about 2.6% of the overall housing stock, and the majority is in the affordable housing market.
There is a need for a wider mix of properties for older buyers who wish to downsize to something more convenient or manageable, whether that's a bungalow with a garden or an apartment with stainless steel balcony railings. Some retired homeowners will want to remain independent, whereas others will require a purpose-built development that includes some form of care package.
Large Target Market
Research from Knight Frank found that a quarter of those over 55 would think about moving to a purpose-built retirement development as they got older, which is almost two million property owners, and this could have a significant impact across the housing market.
With a greater range of properties targeted at the older generation, it will free up family homes further down the ladder, which will take away some of the supply issues. If retired people can't find the right type of property to move to, they are more likely to remain in their current home, which restricts the availability of property to buy for other consumers.
The over-65s market is continuing to grow, and now 18% of the UK's population fits into this category, with 12% over 70 years of age. Currently, though, only 0.6% of properties in this country are in the private retirement sector, such as apartments with stainless steel balcony railings. This year it is estimated that about 5,500 more will be built in this area, which is around 3% of the industry.
In order to boost development in this very important sector, local authorities will need to support plans through the system, and regional policies should take housing needs into account to ensure the right type of properties are being built.