- Survey shows gardens and ample living space would be “must-haves” in Government’s downsizing development plans
- Proposed Government downsizing grant may not be as impactful as intended
- 74% of retirees would consider downsizing
A garden is a deal-breaker for anyone in Ireland to consider downsizing. Such was the primary finding of a nationwide survey (See Appendix) commissioned by Lotus Investment Group, a Dublin-based investment management firm, and conducted my IReach. Nationwide, the survey found that having ‘enough room to entertain family and friends” came second on the downsizing wishlist, but respondents in Munster felt that “staying in the same location” is a more important consideration. People from the Munster region were also more likely to think “storage” would have a big role to play in whether or not they would downsize to a smaller property in years to come.
The survey of 1,000 people found that overall 78% indicated that they would be willing to downsize at some stage, once their ‘could not live without’ criteria were met. Downsizing was a popular choice for 74% of respondents aged over 55, which Lotus IG say is an important discovery as it is this demographic who are most likely to be faced with the choice in the short-term.
Outlining their views on the survey findings, David Grin, Chairperson of Lotus Investment Group,
“There are currently 30,506 people over 55 in Waterford and because Ireland has an ageing population, this figure is set to grow significantly in the coming years, so the subject of downsizing or “rightsizing” as some prefer to call it, has entered public debate over the last couple of years and is likely to receive a lot more airplay in the months and years to come, as the supply of property in the country continues to fall short of demand.
It’s important for all stakeholders to realise that if downsizing is to be an attractive proposition for those whom it is targeted at, then the properties on offer would need to comply with certain criteria – as evidenced by the feedback given in our survey.”
When asked “If you ever decide to downsize, which of the following could you not life without?”, respondents of the Lotus IG survey said they would have to:
- Have a garden area or a nice outdoor space 45%
- Have enough room to entertain family and friends 33%
- Remain in the same location 29%
- Have nearby storage for belongings that didn’t fit in their new home 15%
- Get a Government grant to subsidise the move 11%
An Incentive for Change
In February of this year, in an effort to devise a solution in part to Ireland’s housing crisis, the Government launched a policy statement entitled ‘Housing Options for Our Ageing Population’, which suggested that it may be a good idea for the State to incentivise the relocation of older people to ‘right-size or appropriately sized units’ if they choose to do so.
The recently appointed chair of the Land Development Agency (LDA), John Moran said at the time that the Government should encourage people to move away from three-bedroom, semi-detached housing in rural and commuter belt towns, by reducing property tax for city centre apartments.
Mr. Grin continued,
“Interestingly, and perhaps somewhat surprisingly, only 11% of our survey respondents would insist on a Government grant to make the move to a smaller property. The financial incentive appeals to twice as many men than women – 14% and 7% respectively.”
According to Mr. Grin,
“While there are some generalities across the board, buyer behaviour in property is, by its very nature, heavily influenced by geography and life stage cycle. For example, while just 25% of those in the 18 – 24 bracket say that ‘remaining in the same location’ would be a deal-breaker if they were to downsize in the future, a larger 36% of those aged 55+ feel this way. Perhaps the older demographic is more likely to realise the importance of knowing your neighbourhood and the people in it and are less likely to favour change.
What’s more, 19% of people in Dublin see additional storage as a must-have, whereas only 5% of those living in Connacht and Ulster see this as an issue, thus highlighting the shortage of space in Dublin properties when compared with those in more rural, and/or possibly less congested parts of the country.”
Other variations in the Lotus IG survey include:
- 41% of Dublin-based respondents see ‘having enough room to entertain family and friends’ as important, but just 26% of those in Munster feel the same way
- More people in Connaught/Ulster say they would ‘never consider downsizing’ than people in Dublin – 27% and 17% respectively
- ‘Remaining in the same location’ is favoured by more men (31%) than women (27%)
Mr. Grin concluded,
“While we do see some merit in incentivising older people to move out of their bigger houses and into more suitably sized dwellings, there is no point in offering them some of the recently built apartments that have no decent outside space or access to greenspace, and insufficient room to entertain their children and grandchildren. The requirements sought by older people are pretty straight forward so there’s no reason to believe that their wishes couldn’t be met with some creative thinking from Government planners and property developers.”