Commercial Residential Retirement Property

Does London need more specialist retirement property? | Strutt & Parker blog

Q1 2017

With more well-off older people looking for exciting city living, isn’t it time London’s developers built something for this growing target market…

Richard Harris

Partner, Head of Alternative Capital Markets

+44 207 318 5068

Retirement homes conjure up mainly negative images. But withan ageing population, shouldn’t we be looking to develop more homes aimed atthis market?

The new old

A new market is emerging for property developers that seemsto have been largely missed – wealthy older people who are no longer looking togo quietly into their country homes, but instead are looking to stay active andexcited in city centres.

The latest government figures show that homeownership forthose aged 65 to 74 is just over 78%, meaning these people have the chance tosell their current property and buy something to suit their changing needs. Andwhile many of these people remain fit and healthy, there’s also the realitythat as they get older they’d like a property that matches their needs – butnot just yet.

Missing a trick

The truth is that these types of properties simply aren’tgetting built in the numbers needed. But it’s not for want of trying. Figuresfrom law firm Pinsent Mason found that planning applications for new retirementdevelopments have risen by 162% since 2010 – but many are being rejected due todated planning laws, it claims.

The report says there’s growing demand from a group ofpeople who fit in the gap between general housing and care homes. But ascouncils don’t currently allocate housing for these types of developments,retirement home developers are being priced out of the market, especially incities where demand for land is fierce.

And with 71% of people approaching retirement age owningtheir own home in 2013/14, it seems like the demand for modern retirementproperties aimed at an active older person will continue to grow in the comingyears.

What they want

This market has its own needs and desires when it comes tohousing…

Modern vibes

Gone are the days of moving to the countryside. According toMark Dorman, Partner in Strutt & Parker’s Residential Development andInvestment Department, older buyers are selling their family homes in thesuburbs for something with a ‘different vibe.’

“Marylebone and Fitzrovia didn’t attract this sort of buyerbefore; but now a batch of good developments has pulled people in fromKensington, Chelsea and Mayfair. Older buyers have power because they tend tobe cash-rich, unhindered by the baggage of children and their school needs.”

A development that meets these desires is LifeCare’s atBattersea Place, which has been greeted with fanfare.

Easy access

While many older people are physically – and socially –active, they realise that this might not always be the case. Therefore, they’relooking for something that is close to various amenities. It’s why London is sopopular – a short Tube or Uber ride and you’re in the centre of one of thebiggest and best social and arts scenes in the world.

Round-the-clock care

New retirement developments aren’t just about providingtheir residents with a fun lifestyle – there’s also a more serious side.Protection from falls, illness and general support will be needed. Some form ofround-the-clock support is a must, such as on-call nurses or support workers.

Care also needs to meet the needs of the individual. Thedays of a one-size-fits-all approach to residential care could be behind us.Advances in technology and the changing needs of residents means that personalisedcare plans are a must.

Good security

With wealthy people moving into retirement properties,security becomes a much greater issue. Many of the new residents could end upspending half of their time in holiday homes, so having a place that is secureenough to leave valuables is important.

Mark Dorman adds: “They like to travel, so they need goodsecurity – a lock-and-leave home that has parking and a concierge to say goodmorning to. Modern block living ticks all of the boxes.”

The same goes for things like parking garages, where theycan leave their cars safely until needed.

For more information on retirement living, our expert RichardHarris can give you details on everything from assisted living tocare homes.