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BTR Embraces Older People, Is Birmingham Property Ready?

The Broad Street tower

The BTR sector is embracing senior living, as research shows growing support for renting after retirement.

Research for a new report, Urban Being — The Future of City Living, was conducted by FTI Consulting on behalf of law firm CMS in July, and surveyed 6,500 people living and working in large UK cities plus Berlin, Amsterdam and Paris.

It sought to uncover the preferences of consumers when it comes to their living environment. It also canvassed the view of more than 200 real estate professionals and 11 in-depth interviews with investors, developers and operators active in the residential sector.

The research showed 56% of respondents agreed that owning a property is becoming less popular, with 69% believing that their government should encourage more homes being available for rent rather than to buy. According to the survey, 61% of all respondents would consider renting when they retire, with a surprising 53% of those over 55 in agreement.

CMS said the research showed the acceptance by the baby boomer generation that renting is an option in later life, and said this is perhaps a reflection of the changing perception and nature of later living accommodation compared to 20 years ago. Today, one in 200 people in the UK aged over 65 live in bespoke later living homes. In the USA and Australia it is one in 20.

The poll asked the generational groups what were the motivations for moving accommodation, with the No. 1 reason being the need for more living space (29%). Only the baby boomers (14%) said they would move because they need less space; a clear indication that the later living model would appeal to this cash-rich group.

There is also widespread agreement across the generations that better local amenities would prompt a move, the second most popular reason given. This aligns with the thoughts of the real estate interviewees in the report, who stressed that when they create residential developments today, placemaking is all important. Getting the right mix of food outlets, retail and amenities in an area makes it a much more desirable place to live.

“What I like about the build-to-rent model, in the context of mixed-use development, is that there is an economic driver for us to make this place interesting, attractive and entertaining for people, to live, work and play,” Quintain Chief Executive Angus Dodd said.

The poll also asked what amenities people want in their next home. First (42%) was super-fast internet, with smart meters to control energy use and electric vehicle charging points (both 31%) second, reflecting the influence of technology and the rise of the ‘green agenda’ in society today. The generational groups were largely in agreement in what they wanted, with one outlier being 56% of millennials wanting to have permission to keep pets in rented accommodation.

Has Birmingham BTR focused too narrowly on recent graduates and young professionals? Is it alive to the opportunities for retired people in the BTR sector? Join the conversation at the Bisnow Birmingham BTR Update on 11 September.