Older people say location is the most important factor when choosing a property

Location is by far the most important factor for over 65s when choosing a property, with 56% of renters and owners taking part in a new survey highlighting where they are going to live as a priority.

Affordability is the next most important factor, followed by the size of the property, according to the senior living survey from real estate firm Knight Frank which points out that the market for those aged 65 and over is forecast to grow by almost 40% by 2023

Affordability is a significant factor underpinning decisions to live in the private rented sector, the survey also found, with 17% of respondents stating they don’t have enough for a deposit to buy a property.

When choosing a location in which to live, 28% of respondents said that their decision was guided by whether the rent or purchase price of the area was within their budget, followed by living close to family and friends at 17%, proximity to transport links at 13% and access to green space at 10%.

Some 60% of respondents said their last move was to a home within 10 miles of their previous property. Meanwhile, almost a quarter moved more than 50 miles, perhaps reflecting the need to move for family reasons.

Respondents indicated a clear inclination towards town centre living, with 75% stating the distance from a retirement village to a town centre was important to them

Knight Frank also engaged with 15 of the biggest funders and developers in the senior living market and found that 83% of investors plan to manage their projects using an in-house platform while 68% said that future investment would be in the regions, rising from 63% today.

It also found that 78% view Brexit as a threat and more than a third of respondents said they wanted to engage in providing cradle to grave housing, in some cases, student housing right through to housing with extra care for older people

Knight Frank forecasts the total value of the private senior living market will climb 40% to £55.2 billion by 2023, from £39.6 billion in 2019 with growth being underpinned by demographic shifts and increased investment from both the UK and overseas.

‘These findings highlight clear opportunities for senior living developers to design schemes that appeal to this growing sector. In fact, 37% of respondents to the survey said they found the prospect of living in a senior living scheme attractive, representing huge potential for market growth,’ said Tom Scaife, head of senior living at Knight Frank.

‘Still a nascent market, there are challenges to overcome in senior living with access to data among the most important. Further hurdles, which the industry is already taking steps to overcome, centre on communicating the social and economic benefits of senior living to local communities,’ he pointed out.

‘Current Government support, the continuation of uncapped ground rents in the sector, for example, needs to continue and expand. A uniform plan for meeting the housing needs of our aging population is also required. This should include clarity on affordable housing, local authority financial saving through provision of care within seniors housing, and the release of local family housing back to the market via downsizers moving into seniors housing,’ he added.