With the number of households headed by someone over 85 projected to grow by almost 1.5m in the next 20 years, north west property finder, Lisa Green, reflects on some of the issues facing the more mature house hunter.
Most people probably start thinking about their final house move once their children have left home and they are left with an “empty nest”. In our experience they typically want to release equity in the family home and look for somewhere more manageable. Somewhere smaller – but where children and grandchildren can still come to visit. Somewhere with some outside space – but not too high maintenance. Somewhere with easy access or potential to be adapted in the future should their mobility decrease. Somewhere they can envisage living independently for as long as possible.
For many, a modern bungalow would tick a lot of boxes yet only 2% of new build properties are now bungalows and existing ones are often dated and require extensive refurbishment. Whilst there remains a lot of national media attention on the First Time Buyer market, it seems that the needs of our ageing population are also being neglected. Here we look at a couple of recent examples in the north west of England.
Derek Holden was widowed in his early seventies and immediately decided to sell the country cottage he had shared with his late wife. Like many in his position he decided a low maintenance apartment in area close to his friends and golf club was the right answer. However within a short space of time he started to have his doubts …
“I bought one of six apartments in a relatively new and sought after development in Southport, said Mr Holden. It was much more spacious than many new apartments. There were no young children or pets and my new neighbours were all that I could wish for. My apartment was on the top floor of three, and commanded views up and down a tree-lined road. The traffic noise was minimal and the hustle & bustle was always fascinating.
I am not a gardener but I do like a nice garden, pottering about, cleaning the car, holding occasional barbecues as well as spending time relaxing in a sun lounger. Clearly this did not happen in the apartment and dark winter nights seemed to drag. Eventually I decided to look out for a bungalow in same area.
Unlike many towns, Southport has a good supply of bungalows, but there still wasnʼt a huge choice in my price range of around £350,000. The first one that seemed to suit my specification turned out to need ʻrebuilding at all four cornersʼ when we received the survey. So back to the drawing board. I had already considered and rejected a three-bedroomed bungalow within 100 yards of the ninth tee at my golf club but it had been empty for over twelve months and the gardens had been totally neglected. The interior was very dated and it did not appeal in any way at all. In discussion with Lisa she convinced me that it could have considerable potential if we could negotiate the price. Sharing a few ideas from different contacts, the whole concept began to change. Knock a wall down here, update the kitchen, build a sunroom there, develop a patio area, employ a good gardener and re-surface the driveway – and the whole scenario took on a new lease of life.
I was fortunate to be able to stay in my apartment while the work was done but within a few months it had been transformed from a run-down property into a vibrant, interesting prospect, in a prime location, close to the coastal road leading into town. I have now lived there for almost two years and am delighted that I made what has turned out to be a most successful move”
Current clients of our north-west office are seeking help with their move back to the Chester area from France. This time a daughter with mum in her nineties want a modern, spacious 2-3 bed bungalow which they can move straight into. Good access to public transport, a vibrant local community and shops are also high on their priority list.
Yet again, their homesearch demonstrates that the majority of bungalows on the market are dated and require refurbishment; and any good ones get snapped up very quickly. Having someone continually monitoring the local market as well as being able to make a decision and proceed quickly are absolutely essential.
So How Can County Homesearch Help You?
Well, we can’t wave a magic wand and create properties where they don’t exist – we may need to rely on forward thinking planners and developers for that. But we can definitely take some of the stress out of your search and save you a lot of unnecessary travel and unproductive viewing time.
We can help you decide what’s really important. Often it is about the life you want to live rather than the size or style of the house you want to buy.
Looking at a property through a different pair of eyes can often reveal hidden potential. All our area specialists are experienced property finders and have trusted local networks of tradespeople to help with any refurbishment.
We also know professional advisors who can help manage the financial transition from one property to another as well as removal companies who can help you pack and unpack.
Once you’ve moved in we can helping you to transfer utilities, Council Tax and all the other tiresome jobs involved in changing address.
In fact we can even project manage the whole move for you if you wish.
For more information about how we can help you downsize and find your new address with minimum stress please see https://www.county-homesearch.com/downsizers/ or call us to discuss your requirements on 0333 939 8300
Director, County Homesearch (North West) Ltd