Only developers with flexible offerings are likely to stay in the game. With people thinking twice about investing, what are the retirement estate must-haves?
WORDS: KIM MAXWELL • IMAGES: SUPPLIED
he property market has changed significantly during 2020, with cash buyers and savvy bargain hunters picking up good deals.
As a rule, potential homeowners are becoming more picky in search of real value. Buyers in every age category are thinking twice about investing.
Many retirees about to make their most significant personal lifestyle investment are now having to adjust their sights to make their budgets stretch further.
Against this backdrop, only developers approaching retirement developments with flexible financial, home and care options for residents are likely to stay relevant.
There aren’t enough offerings that suit the pockets of the retirement market, according to Rainmaker marketing director Stefan Botha. “As a result of lockdown, people in the residential market have really prioritised what they want as a family, from a convenience and lifestyle and security perspective,” he says.
“The biggest shift we’re seeing in the retirement market is that it’s forcing developers to think more strategically about how they can provide cost-effective retirement living. Historically, developers have missed the mark and underestimated the price sensitivity of this market and the fact that many retirees can only afford about 60% of the value of their current residential property when moving into retirement.”
For Evergreen Lifestyle Retirement Villages, offering mature residents access to modern retirement estates with all the trimmings, plus the adaptability to downscale their accommodation according to their changing life needs, is proving to be a winning ticket.
“The baby boomer generation wants more flexibility from their retirement options,” says Evergreen Lifestyle Villages head of marketing Prieshka Taylor. “They want to lead active lives and many still work in some capacity and want to be able to downsize in stages.”
While a traditional retirement home model won’t fit those requirements, an Evergreen life rights model allows flexibility – residents don’t own the property but rather acquire the right to live in the home for the remainder of their (and their partner’s) life.
“For these reasons, retirement lifestyle estate developers are providing villages with far more flexibility to meet the needs, requirements and constraints of today’s working retirees,” says Taylor.
“Developers must stay on the ball to ensure retirees feel comfortable about moving into a new environment, knowing that they have everything they need to live a full and active life.
“The options are very flexible for our residents. They’re able to downsize from the family home and later have the option to shift from a house to an apartment within the same village easily.”
Financial security is another benefit of Evergreen’s life rights model. The villages also offer security, along with an array of activities and amenities that encourage wellness, community and access to healthcare and hospitality.
“We looked at options for people who might be approaching retirement from different financial standings,” says Craft Homes marketing manager Jessica Cabanita. This Gauteng developer is selling sectional title apartments and homes online.
The Retreat is situated in a quiet neighbourhood in Hazeldean, Pretoria East. It’s next to Curro Hazeldean’s primary and high schools, providing a convenient option for grandparents to pick up their grandkids.
“We offer apartments to those on more limited budgets, particularly if they’re older and single following the death of a spouse. It’s convenient, as they’re right next to the operational frailcare centre. These apartments are also attractive to investors – for instance, children might purchase a unit for their parents. The apartments have high rental demand.”
Starting from R899,000 for a one-bedroom, one-bathroom unit, only 17 of 24 apartments are still available, with occupation likely from October this year.
“For those looking for a bit more space and a garden, we offer two- or three-bedroom freestanding simplex homes with double garages and private gardens,” says Cabanita. “Those should start from about R2m when we start marketing them towards the end of the year.”
The Rabie Property Group says life rights are the most affordable way to buy into a luxury retirement lifestyle.
It offers savings on upfront costs – only mandatory legal fees are payable, with no VAT, transfer duty or registration costs. Also, maintenance, management and resales are the developer’s responsibility.
“Life rights are so much more than merely a financial return on your investment. It’s about offering a stress-free standard of living. There are a multitude of benefits that a stand-alone home or even sectional title option cannot provide,” says Rabie director Miguel Rodrigues.
“Our Oasis Life developments are perfectly geared for navigating times like these. While concerns about congregate living may be valid, a new-generation retirement estate or village has tremendous benefits.
“ While safe physical isolation is possible thanks to the design of these retirement estates, residents and their families may find comfort in the various kinds of support offered, including delivery or take-away meal options, continuous provision of primary healthcare and services such as laundry.”
Botha says Rainmaker’s retirement data has shown that the cost of frailcare and assisted living is one of the biggest challenges from a care perspective.
“There’s now more of a focus on active ageing and developers putting in smaller facilities in a development to bring the overall development cost down so unit costs are lower,” he says.
“This makes it possible for people within existing estates to move into a different stage of life. This can apply to life rights as well as sectional title models.”
Rainmaker is marketing a new development that no longer applies a one-size-fits-all mindset to the retirement market, Botha says. Nova Stella development in Shaka’s Rock, KwaZulu-Natal, was designed with over-50s in mind.
The 53 apartments offer facilities focussed on modern active living and socialising, offering residents “a truly coastal lifestyle with geographical positioning key to its desirability”.
The two- and three-bedroom apartments start from R2,195m. Wellness needs are met through on-site healthcare in a dedicated estate doctor’s rooms and mobile nursing services.
What will separate future successful developers from the rest? “Positively, the retirement developer market is now forced to look at size and to realise that the only way to make units cheaper is to make them smaller and more compact, but cleverly designed,” says Botha.
A case in point: Apartments at Craft Homes’ The Retreat are also smaller, ranging from 40m2 to 64m2. Units have prepaid electricity meters and basic healthcare services are included. A fully operational frailcare centre is adjacent to the apartments.
Uncapped ADSL includes free calls within the estate and a 24-hour panic button service to locate the nearest ambulance.
Advanced internet technology to enable remote working is another must-have for any modern retirement estate developer.
It’s increasingly common for residents to move into retirement estates early, from the age of 55, and some need to or choose to keep working until well past 65.
“Many of our Evergreen residents are working well into their 70s, entering this phase with a desire to connect with their world,” says Taylor.