As we emerge from the deepest recession since the Second World War, property experts are beginning to look at how the trough has restructured the way we live. A new report from Strutt & Parker, Housing Futures: How the Market is Changing, has shone a light on some of the creeping trends that are now reshaping our lives.
“Home ownership is on the wane,” says Stephanie McMahon, head of research and author of the report. “It peaked at 70 per cent in 2001 and huge numbers of people in their twenties and thirties are now renting. The ageing baby boomers and the millennials create two huge imbalances at either end of the market.”
Property is being used to bolster pensions and incomes, meet care needs and provide for changing family dynamics. Housing Futures is based on the views of industry experts and interviews with 1,000 clients.
Those who surfed the last property boom and now find themselves over-propertied have been dubbed Tumbleweeders. They might be commuters with large country houses, working long hours, monday to friday, in the City and enjoying the country only at weekends, or empty nesters who have not downsized since their children left home. Some hold on to the family home and fill empty bedrooms only during feast days and holidays when the extended family gathers.
There is huge potential here for housing to be released into the market if the Tumbleweeders move on. Strutt & Parker says that 41 per cent of total households by 2033 will be occupied by one person, and three-quarters will have no dependent children.
Shawn and Sarah Sheppard moved into Crickheath Hall, near Oswestry, Shropshire, in 2001, to restore the house and put sheep, pigs, horses, chickens and ducks in the paddocks and outbuildings. “I kept my job in IT travelling internationally while Sarah did most of it. It was a wonderful life and fantastic for the kids,” says Shawn. They converted the old dairy to a three-bedroom house for Shawn’s parents.
Now that the children, Eleanor, 16, and Camlo , 14, would rather hang out in Shrewsbury, Shawn has become a second-hand book dealer, the animals have gone and the parents have passed away. “We are spending too much on petrol for the school runs,” says Shawn. So they are selling. “People can sell a terrace house in London and buy this with cash. It is a lifestyle choice.”
A mash-up of Me-first and Eco, this is the name given to the health-conscious eco buyer. New developments are expected to have eco credentials plus gyms, pools, saunas and Jacuzzis. “There is no doubt that the drive to perfect mind, body and soul is on the rise,” says the Housing Futures report. “For example, 150,000 people participated in triathlons in 2012.” Expectations are high. Of the Housing Futures respondents, more than 54 per cent wanted sports or spa facilities in their new homes.
THE TRUE GREENS
True greens put the health of the planet ahead of exercise and dieting.
Alison Moorhouse moved into a row of 12 terrace houses at Great Bow Yard in 2006. The houses, on the River Parrett, were built from materials recycled from an old warehouse on the site, clad in cedar and with lavatories flushed by rainwater, water heated by the sun, recycled newspapers as insulation, and no toxic finishes. “We keep a canoe on the river which is lovely but I must stress that it never floods,” says Alison.
It is in Langport transition town, Somerset, one of the tiniest towns in England which is proud to be plastic-free and as sustainable as possible. “There are allotments and we try to grow food and tread lightly on the planet,” says Alison.
Savills research department calculates that there are 3.9 million one and two-person households who may be living in homes larger than they need. Around 2.2 million of them own outright so have an estimated £536 billion of property equity. But the children of the Sixties aren’t heading for retirement housing so much as seeking the bright lights in town. London’s riverside is a popular hunting ground. “People who no longer need four or five bedrooms but still want a large space for entertaining find that lofts work well,” says James Hyman of Cluttons. “They sell in the country or in Notting Hill and buy here for less to release capital for their own enjoyment or to help the pension deficit.”
Global Nomads now roam the London streets, working with the international banks and finance houses, buying or renting. They may have already worked in New York or Frankfurt or Hong Kong. Their skills are in high demand and they globetrot to where the salaries are highest. Those who choose to rent, says the Housing Futures report, remain “truly footloose”.
“They have a housing allowance of £1,000 to £2,000 per week, no family in tow, and can cover the whole of Europe from London. So they want a pied-à-terre and then spend a lot of their time on planes,” says Lucy Morton at W A Ellis. “They want a good kitchen but often don’t use the oven at all. It is still pristine, with the instruction manual inside at the end of the tenancy.”
Buyers often seek out micro-pads which have been “menu-furnished” to their needs. They like to be close to bars and restaurants and to soak up the city buzz. These are not broom cupboards but more like a cousin to the hotel bedroom and are already common in Japan and America. “The micro-pad is like a boat, with each component serving two or more uses,” says Stephanie McMahon. Micro-pads might include underfloor storage, pull-down beds, steps that serve as chairs, and foldaway kitchen worktops.
THE THREE GENS
Estate agents are seeing a big increase in the number of buyers wanting a property with an annexe or cottage attached, as the squeezed middle generation thinks creatively about providing for the young who can’t get on the property ladder and the elderly who need care. “New technology means we can now have online or virtual health care and this means that for the first time it is becoming possible to age at home,” says Stephanie McMahon.
Source (The Telegraph, 14th March 2014) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/property/propertymarket/10687603/Meet-the-new-property-tribes.html