New research shows that Australians over 50 are increasingly looking to downsize from the family home into smaller dwellings located in lifestyle-rich urban areas.
This buyer preference has been highlighted in a new report from the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI), along with new research by Australia’s leading over 50s property portal, Downsizing.com.au.
Downsizers interested in urban convenience
AHURI research finds that, as people age, they are more interested in living in the inner, middle or outer rings of large capital cities, and less interested in large or small regional towns or remote communities.
For instance, the report found that 32 per cent of people aged 55-64 want to remain in middle or outer suburbs
This figure rises to 36 per cent of people aged 65-74 and 40 per cent of over-75s.
This finding reflects “ageing in place” preferences, where people often want to stay in a neighbourhood they are familiar with, and where friends, family and services are close by.
It also reflects a survey of 600 of Downsizing.com.au’s email subscribers, which found that 32 per cent of respondents considered “urban convenience” as their dream downsizing home, well above 18 per cent for “relaxed rural setting”.
Survey respondents were seeking to downsize mainly to reduce home and garden maintenance chores (80 per cent), access lock up and leave convenience (47 per cent) and to more easily age in place (44 per cent).
Unmet demand for smaller dwellings
The AHURI report, released in August 2019, also finds that as people age, demand for larger detached homes tends to fall and conversely demand for smaller housing begins to rise.
For instance, attached dwellings, such as semi-detached cottages, terraces or townhouses, are nominated the ideal housing outcome by nine per cent of people aged 55-64, increasing to 14 per cent for people aged 75 plus.
Apartments and granny flats also grow in popularity, as people get older.
The AHURI report also found that for around half of its 2,400 survey respondents (who were all aged over 55), three was the most popular number of bedrooms, although two bedroom housing became more popular for people aged over 75.
The problem, according to the report, is that the development industry is not providing enough of these types of dwellings, in the right places.
“The diversity of new housing currently being delivered needs to more readily meet the aspirations of those who will live in them,” the report found.
“This research found an unmet demand for smaller dwellings, particularly among homeowners.”
What this means for developers
Downsizing.com.au co-CEO Amanda Graham said the above research highlighted the rich and unmet opportunities for developers who were able to present the right sort of housing stock to the booming downsizer market.
“We know there is strong demand for downsizing, with some 97 per cent of our email subscribers telling us in a survey we conducted last year that they would consider downsizing,” Graham said.
“We also know that finance isn’t usually a problem either. Many over 50s have seen a massive uptick in the value of their homes since purchasing their property, and can unlock this equity when moving to a new downsizer-friendly property.
“One of the chief stumbling blocks, however, is either a shortage of suitable properties in the areas where downsizers want to live, or the properties exist and downsizers can’t find them on traditional real estate websites.
“We have noticed that, faced with an undersupply of these types of homes, downsizers are often dominating the bidding when these properties are sold at auction.
“Downsizing.com.au is a niche property portal which can help developers directly target this active and growing downsizer market.”