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An Expert’s Look At Retirement Property Trends

Posted 30 November 2021 by Keith Osborne

Richard Williams of Cognatum explains some of the major changes to the later living property market over the last 18 months...

Richard Williams, director at specialist retirement developer Cognatum, looks back at 2021 and forward to 2022 to assess the later-living homes sector.

“The pandemic has made everybody very home-centric, and that has certainly made downsizers re-evaluate what they require from their property. The experience of isolation has had a lasting impact on people of all ages, but particularly those in their later years – a stark wake-up call to make the most of their time.

“Having become accustomed to spending time in the home, those downsizing are reluctant to reduce their space, or their comforts, too dramatically. People have taken up a range of home-based hobbies and are recognising that they need their own space to continue to pursue these interests, or simply to have some alone time. Flexible space is key; somewhere that can accommodate an art studio by day, a book with a G&T by evening and family lunch at the weekend.

“Travel is definitely back on people’s radars, so functionality is important. We expect to see buyers seeking property that requires little in the way of day to day maintenance, and is easy to lock up and leave in the knowledge that it will be safe and secure. Easy access to airports and stations is a bonus.

“The pandemic made everyone’s lives much more local, teaching us to find joy in our immediate surroundings, and this has certainly influenced downsizers’ choices, in some cases taking priority over everything else. Local walks have rocketed up the list of requirements. Locations that have extensive opportunities in the immediate area to explore the natural environment will be in demand in ’22, and while green space is unsurprisingly becoming more popular, any type of blue space is now hugely in demand. We expect these trends to continue into ’22 and beyond.

“The pandemic changed the pace of life, and from a day-to-day point of view, the ability to walk to facilities such as shops, pubs, doctor, chemist, church and local friends has become vital. In some cases people are giving up their car, or cutting down from two to one, so good transport links are important. And there’s little question that being able to see family and friends has become more important than ever.

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“Having spent so much time in our homes, the curtilage of the property itself has also taken on more importance; a good spot for morning coffee, a place to watch the sunset, gardens and vegetables to tend. Downsizers are looking carefully at garden space, and assessing how they can incorporate some year-round inside/outside space where it’s possible to have fresh air while sheltered from the elements. Outside socialising has gone from being an occasional summer activity to almost the norm.

“For even the smallest properties, private outside space of some sort, whether that’s a balcony or courtyard has become a necessity rather than a luxury. And there’s a big increase in demand for additional communal space that’s maintained by a third party. For those who experienced lockdown in such surroundings they were of huge benefit, ensuring that there was somewhere pleasant to walk or sit outside at whim, and offering the benefit of simply seeing other people around.

“We expect kitchens to be taken more seriously by retired buyers – many people have discovered or rediscovered the joy of cooking and creating, and downsizers are looking for spacious kitchens that can be sociable as well as practical.

“The independent retirement living sector performed well during the pandemic, compared with other retirement alternatives, and it’s now widely seen to have been a safe pair of hands in a time of crisis. The pandemic forced us all to look at our circumstances and our support networks. Older buyers have generally become more receptive to the concept of buying on a retirement estate with all the benefits and reassurances of a managed environment and an estate manager on hand as back up if problems arise, whereas previously they might not have considered themselves in anyway vulnerable.

“With family not always on the doorstep, the dip-in-dip-out nature of a community of like-minded people is proving popular. We are also seeing increased interest in ‘extra’ facilities such as guest accommodation, communal grounds, and shared car schemes.”

Find out more at www.cognatum.co.uk.


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