Retirement Homesearch Q3 2016 review
Sales of retirement property saw an unseasonal rise following the EU referendum, with August the second busiest month of the year to date, according to the latest figures from Retirement Homesearch (part of FirstPort). Despite overall figures for the third quarter remaining steady compared to last year, there was a much higher concentration of sales in August, with the usually quiet summer month seeing a 55% rise in completions compared to August 2015.
This continued the trend seen so far in 2016 where the market has followed an unusual pattern of sales, with a spike in Q1 ahead of changes to Stamp Duty for buy-to-let homes, followed by a slump ahead of the referendum despite Q2 traditionally being one of the busiest sales periods. Since the Brexit result Retirement Homesearch has reported a surge in market confidence with August – usually one of the quietest months for completions – seeing higher sales despite the normal summer trend of fewer viewings and registered buyers.
Nick Freeth, Managing Director, Retirement Homesearch says: “One explanation for the unseasonal rise could be that, as many reports and polls have shown, the older demographic served by retirement property were more likely to have voted for Brexit than others. Buoyed by the Brexit result, this confidence has appeared to have carried through to the retirement property market.”
This increased confidence has also been reported elsewhere in the sector. Property Managers and Developers are rethinking the way in which they approach the market as older Britons lead increasingly more active and social lifestyles. A recent study by Age UK found that nearly three quarters of over-65s have been involved in leisure activities or hobbies in the last two weeks.
Another lifestyle trend emerging among retired Britons is an increase in digital savviness and a willingness to embrace new technology. According to the most recent ONS figures, recent internet use in the 65-74 age group has increased by 69% since 2011 to 74%. Retirement Homesearch’s parent company, FirstPort has found through its newly-launched Digital Eagles Tea & Teach sessions that older residents realise the benefits that technological advances bring to their day-to-day lives.
Nick Freeth said: “Retirement developments are no longer seen as a collection of individual homes; they are vibrant communities, home to people leading full and active lives – something which property managers, developers and the wider industry will need to accommodate in the future. From a development perspective, forward-looking retirement properties now need to be built with more open plan areas, social spaces and gardens to serve a more active community. In our own developments we are seeing the communal areas packed with residents attending Digital Eagles sessions where they can improve their digital skills, as well as other social events and evenings.”