According to a new report, small towns are set to swell with increasing numbers of elderly people as they reject city living. It comes amid a hidden housing crisis caused by a lack of appropriate homes for a rapidly ageing population, claims the study from the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Centre for Towns thinktank. Here Keats Estate Agents in Haslemere put the issue in the spotlight:
Preparing for retirement is something we all must undertake and much of the planning is based around finance. Many people hope to unlock a substantial sum from their current home, buy something smaller and more manageable with lower outgoings and usually in a quiet area.
Finding that perfect property for the ‘last move’ is however not as simple as you may think. Should you buy a typical home just a little smaller than the current abode or go straight for the ‘retirement complex ‘with the facility of on-site warden assistance should the need arise in the future?
Bungalows, the property of preferred choice, are now a rarity. The relaxation of planning regulations has seen them snapped up over the past 25 years by young families and expanded into larger homes by way of extensions and loft conversions. They are now generally unavailable for down sizers, leaving some movers with little option other than to buy an apartment. However, this could mean services charges, ground rents and potential lease extension costs eating into the capital.
Since the 1980s there has been an explosion in the building of retirement developments. Builders leapt into what they viewed as a lucrative marketplace with the growth in the number of people of pensionable age. Many of the earlier developments provided very small living units as residents were encouraged to use communal lounges for socialising and many had no plumbing provision for washing machines as the expectation was for residents to use shared laundry facilities. Combine this with often very high service charges and ground rents and onerous exit fees charged by the developer when selling on the property and it is no wonder that the resale values have fallen, and the market is flooded with available units.
Rita Tinney, Keats Sales and Lettings Director said: "During the past few years there has been a move towards more luxurious senior living in newly created ‘retirement villages’ with the conversion into apartments of country houses with surrounding parkland and the inclusion of leisure facilities such as tennis courts, gyms, swimming pools, computer lounges and on-site bistros and convenience stores. However, all of this comes with a hefty price tag and substantial service fees. While they may be luxurious, they can often be remote and not within walking distance of local shops or town centres necessitating taxi fares if you can no longer drive yourself.
"Many older people are now taking a very different view of downsizing and rather than buying a property they are choosing to rent. Having sold their former home, they want to stay cash rich and not plough substantial sums back into bricks and mortar and for them renting is an attractive option. It allows for downsizing at a more gradual pace without having to make radical adjustments at the onset; it also means a more comfortable lifestyle – taking the holidays you always planned but didn’t get around to. Renting also provides the ability to stay close to family if loved ones are forced to relocate due to employment.
"While financial security is important, we now understand that the ability to socialise and interact with other people is just as important for both physical and mental health. A well-run retirement complex can be extremely beneficial by proving a social environment, including activities and outings.
"Whichever option is chosen for retirement there needs to be a change in perspective from both local authorities and central Government. Provision of functional homes to cater for the expanding older generation should be central to any planning strategy. Authorities must consider build to purchase, build to rent, or potentially a combination of the two through rent to buy - particularly suitable for those who have not been able to build up a nest egg to provide a comfortable retirement. The industry needs to keep pressure on the relevant authorities to ensure this happens at the earliest opportunity."
Keats often market retirement property in Haslemere and the surrounding villages. Please call our friendly team on 01428 661 622 to discuss your needs.
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