In the UK, life expectancy seems to be getting longer all the time, with the result that working adults and certainly today’s younger working adults, will almost certainly be planning their lives on the assumption that they will not only be living well into their eighties, nineties and even hundreds, but that they will continue to be productive for the majority, if not all, of that time. This (relatively) new reality is being reflected in the housing market, where there is a noticeable change in home-ownership demographics as compared to 20 years ago.
Home owners are getting older
Twenty years ago, 18% of home owners were aged under 35, but by 2016/2017, that figured had halved to 9%. While some people may see this as purely an issue of affordability and it is probably fair to say that affordability is likely to be a fact in at least some cases, it’s also worth pointing out that in 1996 there were about 1 million people aged 18 to 24 attending further education, whereas in 2016 the figure was nearer 2 million.
In addition to entering the workforce later, people are also having children later. In generations past, it was perfectly common for people to start having children in their early twenties. Now, it is becoming more common for people to view their twenties as a time to enjoy adult freedoms without the responsibility of children and to delay their “nesting” until their late twenties or early thirties (or even later).
Home owners still tend to want to stay where they are
While the last twenty years have seen a lot of changes, in some ways, life, and the housing market, is much the same as it has been for many years. For example, home owners tend to want to stay where they are, with only 4% of home owners expecting to move in the next six months compared to almost a fifth of those renting in the private sector. Reasons for moving tended to relate to a need for more space (41%) or a desire to downsize (31%).
The outlook for the future
Over recent years, there has been much discussion about the plight of younger adults wanting to get on the housing ladder and the subsequent plight of slightly older adults wanting to move from a starter property (be it owned or rented) into a larger home where they can raise a family. There has, however, been somewhat less visibility of the plight of older people who would like to downsize, but who are unable to find a property to suit their needs, which may be somewhat different from those of younger adults.
For example, while younger adults may be happy to see climbing flights of stairs as a free alternative to the gym, older adults do not necessarily have the capability to do so. Therefore, it is to be hoped that going forward, there will be more emphasis on providing quality accommodation for older adults who can still live independently (as opposed to those who require the support of care homes), in order to free up larger homes for younger adults to raise their own families.