New Home Buyers: The Downsizer
Downsizing has become something of a trend in recent years. Downsizers are normally older couples – in their 60s, 70s and even 80s – often with grown-up children, who are either retired or nearing retirement age.
It’s an opportunity to move to a smaller, less expensive and more manageable property, freeing up time spent on the upkeep of large gardens or interiors. And the move is also likely to make some money by releasing equity, which can for example be passed down to adult offspring, used to clear any outstanding debts, pay for future care or supplement a pension.
Demographic changes suggest that downsizers will play an increasingly important role in the new build market in the coming years, as people are healthier and living longer lives. Projections by the Office for National Statistics suggest that the number of over-75s will grow by more than 150,000 annually over the next five years, which will increase demand for suitable property.
But what exactly are downsizers looking for?
First and foremost the downsizer is looking for less, rather than more, space. But that’s not the end of their requirements. Less space is less maintenance and less costs for energy. Having spare bedrooms that are unused 90% of the year adds up!
Downsizing is seen as a way to ease some of the burdens of property ownership. So it’s no surprise that new builds are popular as it means a drastic reduction in maintenance, especially if you are moving from a large property. Older people are also far less likely to be looking for a property they can refurbish, so are particularly attracted by the ease of moving to a new build without any ongoing maintenance problems, or being faced with the hassle and expense of having work done as soon as they move in.
Quality of the neighbourhood and access to green space are also important to downsizers, as many are likely to spend a lot of time at or near home and may rely on the local community for friendship and support. Covid has highlighted the need to support both physical and digital communities and this is an area that many developers are yet to exploit and quite often left to social media companies. Digital communities can provide rich insights and feedback to improve future developments for downsizers. For the downsizers digital communities provide a way of sharing information and more easily getting local help/assistance.
Given the high number of retirees in the downsizer segment, they are obviously much less concerned with proximity to work. So, downsizers are more likely to look for suburban, market town or village developments, than bustling city centre locations.
In addition, both road connectivity and public transport links are important to downsizers. They are also generally looking for properties with off-road parking and a garden, and are attracted by the prospect of energy efficiency and the savings that can come with it.
For the older downsizer it may seem that digitisation is not a priority however, quite often information provided by developers has to be shared with family members who may help to look after the property, especially if the home is fitted with smart devices or an alarm system. Moving towards digital handovers allows developers to give owners the option of sharing information more easily, whilst becoming more environmentally friendly by using less paper.