The growing need for retirement properties in Plymouth
THERE is a well publicised shortfall in the number of new homes being built across the UK but there is one area of the market where there is a particular need according to a recent report.
Research produced by one think tank claims more than 58 per cent of older people want to move but cannot find an appropriate property and while they remain in their old homes it is causing a blockage to the housing market.
Property website Zoopla reported on the findings of Demos – a cross-party organisation which produces research aimed at provoking change – and says they are calling on the Government to provide funding for more retirement housing.
The report says that many of the older people who took part in the research are living alone in homes which are too large for them and which would be much better suited to growing families and those wanting to move up the housing ladder.
Tuesday 9th & Wednesday 10th. Carol (with over 16yrs experience) has 10% off - facials. Pedicures. Manicures. Body wraps. Spray tans. Waxing. Tinting. Perming
Terms: For 2 days only. With therapist Carol. Please quote "2 day special offer".
Contact: 01271 440617
Valid until: Thursday, December 12 2013
It claims that as many as 3.5 million older people would like to purchase a tailor-made retirement property but with only around 100,000 on the market there is a dramatic shortfall in availability.
"The majority of older people in three-, four- and five-bedroom homes want to downsize," says Demos deputy director Claudia Wood.
"Overcoming planning barriers to meet this demand would benefit the economy, younger families stuck on the housing ladder and older people themselves.
"It's a mystery why successive governments haven't taken this on board already."
One of the main issues facing those wanting to downsize is the cost that might be involved and mainstream developers are reluctant to invest in such developments as they do not produce as healthy a profit as others – hence the call for government funding to free up the market.
The Zoopla report says that prices remain too high because of a lack of suitable stock, but the Government encouraging downsizing would address this issue, bringing more homes into use in the best way and helping families to climb the ladder without putting themselves into debt.
The findings are backed up by local estate agents who say that it is difficult to find suitable properties to keep up with the needs of older people.
"There is a strong demand for retirement properties but there is a concern about the service charges that go with them," said Stuart Millington of Millington Tunnicliff.
"There is a particular demand for bungalows from people who are looking for a property for their retirement but unfortunately there aren't that many of them around and developers tend not to build them because they get a much better return on larger, family houses.
"There is a real gap in the market for people seeking to downsize to a smaller retirement property but who are not yet frail enough to need the services of an on-site warden or caretaker, people who want independent living but are fit and able to take care of themselves.
"The retirement properties we do have usually sell well.
"McCarthy and Stone are a renowned national house builder and the quality of their product is excellent.
"They produce homes which are tailored specifically for the needs of older people, but there is also perhaps a need for accommodation that is halfway between the two – a smaller home but one for people who don't yet require the extra facilities someone in later years may require.
"There are many active, retired people out there who still want to tend a garden or want somewhere they can lock up and leave while they travel and until they can find a suitable alternative they are staying in their original property."
Following the surge in births in the aftermath of World War II, more people of 65 and over now live in the UK than at any other point in history.
Well over 600,000 people will reach the milestone birthday every year until at least 2018 and with greater life expectancy this means a burgeoning number of older people who will be bringing to the housing market their own special requirements so this is not a problem that is likely to disappear.
Russell Brighton of Connells says that some older people find that a park home is a good compromise when they want to downsize but cannot afford a bungalow or tailor-made retirement flat and agrees that lack of availability of suitable homes is often a major issue.
"Occasionally a retirement village is built which offers a mix of housing, with flats, houses and bungalows and these are always extremely popular," he said.
"But they are few and far between so any financial incentive to encourage more developers to build them would be welcomed.
"Older people need good quality retirement homes which are not too expensive but also ideally that are close to towns and cities and local amenities."
Danielle Smith of Fulfords says that purpose-built retirement properties at Regents Court in Greenbank fit the bill perfectly and get snapped up quickly.
The warden-controlled apartments are close to the city centre and with prices ranging between £55,000 and £65,000 for a one-bedroom home are always very popular.
"We have sold two recently and the last one we put on the market had an offer accepted within a month," she said.
"The demand is definitely there and Regents Court is popular because it is close to the city centre providing easy access to the town and all the shops and amenities there.
"The whole complex has a lovely friendly feel to It and people feel welcomed by the other residents and feel at home quickly.
"There is a strong community spirit and there are good facilities.
"That is exactly what older people are looking for."