Location wise, buyers should consider accessibility and not choose a property that is too rural or too remote. Most buyers prefer to live on the edge of a village where they can enjoy a more tranquil environment and are still within easy walking distance of village amenities and a local bus stop.
The other draw of village or edge of village locations is the possibility to be able to integrate easily into a new community. Many villages have active communities and being nearby means not only is it easy to meet neighbours and make friends but also being able to enjoy the various local clubs and societies that may be taking place.
Many buyers dread the “downsize” – and quite understandably – especially if they have been in their existing property for a number of years and have brought up their families there. They imagine that they will feel cramped in a smaller property where their furniture may not fit, and consequently that it will be a big compromise. However, many actually find that in a more compact property it is easier to maintain it making it more cost and time effective, leaving the buyers more time to enjoy their new property and surroundings. For buyers who are concerned about space, many effectively utilise space in a smaller property by using “dual-purpose” rooms, for example a study can easily be converted into an occasional guest room with a sofa bed.
With regards to the property itself, often maintenance is the key. Whilst perhaps in the past these buyers may have been drawn to larger period properties requiring constant care, many now tend to lean towards character and even new build properties that are easy to maintain.
Another trend emerging is the ‘silver gap year buyers’ who decide to release capital from their existing larger properties, normally to be able to help their children onto the property ladder but also so that after years of working and nearing retirement, they can enjoy some travelling time of their own now that their own children have flown the nest. Again, these buyers tend to want a property that is easy to maintain, secure and appropriate as a ‘lock up and leave.’ These properties are likely to be new build and can be on a gated development where there is adequate security and often a shared maintenance contract whereby communal areas are well maintained by all of the owners on the development. Other choices are also town and village properties with manageable gardens and with neighbours nearby to keep an eye on the property.
For some buyers, a retirement development is a good option as there are usually good communal activities and it is easy to meet other residents. This tends to suit buyers who have been widowed and therefore provides them with company and a sense of community. Again for buyers whose families are overseas or long distance, this can be a sensible choice. For buyers who have a caring role, if their partner is older or infirm and needs further care, this can be a really good choice, both in terms of available care on site and also company. A downside that some buyers find however is that they prefer to retain a sense of privacy given by moving to an independent property, which often retirement developments do not give, and it may be difficult to have a lot of friends or family to stay.
Another point to note for buyers is not only the style of house, but also whether the house can be easily adapted in later years. If it is to be the final move, many buyers start to consider a more lateral style which provides easy living for those less able. Buyers must however think about potential lift access or staircase width. Many buyers may need to install a mobility stair-lift in later life which is made more difficult if there is a curving or narrow staircase.
Buyers also need to think about access to the property itself, are there steep front steps? Can the property be adapted in time for ramps if needed? One of the most important things that we see as buying agents for more elderly clients is the wish to maintain their independence for as long as possible and this is where it is imperative to choose a property that not only ticks all the boxes for them in the current circumstances, but also one that can be easily adapted further down the line.
An annexe or self-contained flat is useful for a property suiting these types of buyers. Whilst it can be used effectively for grown up children and grandchildren when they visit, it can also be used later on as live–in accommodation for a carer or housekeeper, which may be essential to maintain their quality of life and enable the buyers to enjoy their later years with the comfort of having someone on site at home for their needs.