Meet the modern downsizer, who wants style over security. Housebuilders need to update their ideas about last-time buyers, according to Savills’ research.
Savills’ research shows that the number of people aged over 65 is set to increase from 550,000 to 1.4 million by 2037, an increase of at least 100,000 every five years.
Many will be looking to trade in their family home and downsize. But, there is a new kind of downsizer at large in the UK housing market – one who is not only cash-rich, having amassed considerable property equity from the sale of the family home, but is also energetic, modern, outward-looking and young at heart.
According to Savills’ research, the over 55s now account for 75% of all housing equity in the UK. Once their kids have flown the nest, this demographic typically gives 30% of the equity in their old home to millennials to help them step onto the housing ladder and saves 70% for themselves.
The new downsizer’s property wish list is similar to that of affluent young professionals, with dual incomes and no heavily dependent children. Savills’ statistics show that a quarter of those buying a luxury new build in the city, for example, is over 60 years old, eschewing the notion that most retirees look for a tranquil bungalow by the sea, a peaceful country retreat or a purpose-built retirement flat.
The new downsizer’s wish list still includes important factors like security and accessibility. However, the latter is now more likely to mean lift access to a chic, spacious apartment with all the mod cons and plenty of entertaining space. Security, meanwhile, is often less about the owners’ personal safety anxieties and more about their aspirations to lock and leave and to travel the world, safe in the knowledge that their property is wind and water tight and secure.
Designer kitchens, bathrooms and all the mod cons, as well as proximity to shops, bars, restaurants, theatres and galleries, with easy access to international airports, are also high on the wish list.
Today’s housebuilders who overlook targeting this increasingly important market, and understanding their needs and aspirations, do so at their peril.