Amanda Graham, the Co-founder and CEO of Downsizing.com.au joins us in this episode of the Downsizing Show along with mainstay Greg Oddy, to share the importance a pet may have on downsizers, how Downsizers are dominating trends, and housing affordability concerns.
Here are the highlights of the discussion:
Pets: Partners or problems?
There are a lot of studies proving the benefits of pets to their owners. And for many families, their four-legged critters may not just be pets, but also family. However, it can be a big issue once families downsize.
Downsizing.com.au found that 60% of their site visitors either have pets, or are planning to get pets, so pet-friendly properties were high on their list of priorities. As this information is not yet widely available, the site introduced a special search category to help families with pets look for downsizer properties.
After all, most downsizers are senior citizens and may appreciate the companionship a pet can provide, especially one that they raised along with their children. There’s also been a lot of talk about loneliness in old age, especially when people live alone, their partners have passed away, or their marriage breaks up later in life.
Pets are fantastic companions. You can go out and walk your dog, for example, and aside from being good exercise, it’s also a good conversation starter. People come up and talk to you.
Luckily, it looks like developers are recognizing that being pet-friendly is an important consideration for their consumers. Many people are not going to consider moving unless they can bring their elderly pet with them.
Other important considerations that consumers have – developers, take note – are the location of the property, lifestyle features like golf courses and community offerings, the price point, and the legal and financial advice they receive from authorities.
Livin La Vida Local
In our talk with Greg Oddy, he shared that downsizers are looking to stay local as much as they can. That means looking at different types of companies: new apartment stock, luxury apartment stock, villas, townhouses, and more. There’s even a bit of a Tiny Homes trend in America that we’re starting to see here in Australia as well.
Downsizers now have time to do other things in their lives now that their kids have their own lives. And most, if not all, downsizers are definitely in that age bracket. They want to spend time with each other or with family, not in their backyard.
Downsizers are also in that age where they have more time to travel, so lock-and-leave properties are definitely a plus. They are also buying these properties at a later stage of life so things like lower power points, easy wheelchair access, good lighting, nearby hospitals and shopping centers, and an alfresco type of atmosphere will set their minds at ease.
Display homes are also important for this demographic as they want to experience the property. They want to touch it, feel it, and walk through it… they want to visualize living in the property.
A treasure trove of houses amidst the affordability crisis
At the same time as Australia is experiencing an affordability housing crisis, there is a treasure trove of houses in supply. These are just sitting idle and unused in every suburban town across Australia. The houses were once filled with the noise and excitement of family life but now sit vacant and forgotten aside from the sporadic returns of former residents.
However, a new survey by downsizing.com.au and LJ Hooker has revealed the extent of this potential supply and the ways we can unlock it. In fact, 90% of the people they surveyed had a spare-and-use bedroom. 40% had two spare bedrooms, while 20% had three.
People spend their whole lives moving up the property ladder–bigger houses, bigger property, better furnishings, etc. Renting redundant rooms is definitely an option, Amanda says. It’s not the best long-term option, but they still need to pay their mortgage. So, if they just had a partner who died, for example, and if they’re not ready to make any major decisions about where to move, renting out redundant features of their home can help their finances.
A number of factors that can hamper downsizers from downsizing is being unable to find the style of accommodation that they want at a price they were willing to pay in the locations they wanted to live. So it’s a combination of the price, location, and style factors. Stamp duty is another big consideration, because just the cost of transacting generally is very high.
In theory, you can recover the cost of your house, especially as it’s value goes up in time, but in reality, there's a whole lot of transaction costs that come out of that. And particularly if you're buying a new place, there is a very significant stamp duty cost as properties have gone up.
There have been movements by politicians pushing for incentives for first-time buyers, but we think there also has to be incentives for the downsizer demographic. That's going to unlock an amazing amount of housing supply and allow other people, younger people, and other families to move up the ladder. And people do need some sort of financial security in their older age group to spend their money better.
Another interesting result from the survey was the potential of shared accommodation for downsizers. There’s an option on the site, downsizing.com.au, for downsizers who are looking for personal accommodation, renters, and shared accommodation.
> Episode 5: Important considerations for downsizers