Seniors are facing a housing crisis of their own, but new, purpose-built retirement properties can offer a new lease on life.
Sad to say, but the UK’s housing market is in a complete mess. First time buyers have never had it so hard to get on the ladder, and even when they do mortgage costs are now taking more of people’s disposable income. On the flip side, older people, too, are facing a housing crisis of their own.
Baby boomers, who enjoyed such a smooth and profitable ride up the property ladder, are now getting on. Many are retired or ready to quit work, their children have flown the nest and, as they age, their needs are changing. Many of these homes are not suited to the demands of older living; too many rooms to clean, a garden that requires constant maintenance, stairs that need to be climbed, the list goes on.
The solution, in many cases, is to downsize to something more manageable but suddenly they have found themselves facing a real shortage of suitable housing.
According to recent research by Knight Frank, more than 8,000 new homes aimed at seniors were built last year, taking the total number of homes available for the more mature buyer to around 762,872.
But these numbers pale into insignificance when compared to the size of the UK’s ageing population. The Office of National Statistics estimates that by 2040 25 per cent of the population will be 65-plus.
The Mayhew Review, published last year, urged the Government to introduce a target of building 50,000 new senior homes every year until 2040. This is needed to keep up with demand for compact homes, with on-site amenities and support, that are close to town or city centres.
It is also important to remember that housing challenges for those at the top of the property ladder will resonate through the entire market. If seniors can’t move on to future-proofed homes where they can live out their later years, their houses and flats won’t come onto the market. This will reduce the available stock for younger buyers, as well as preventing boomers from passing on equity to children and grandchildren to get them onto, or up, the ladder.