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What are most over-50 buyers looking for in a retirement home, and where are they buying to live or investing to secure good rental income initially?

What are most over-50 buyers looking for in a retirement home, and where are they buying to live or investing to secure good rental income initially?

WORDS: KIM MAXWELL – PHOTOS: SUPPLIED

Everyone is trying to make smarter lifestyle decisions to stretch their money further. So has demand increased for retirement properties sold on a life rights system where set expenses make it easier to cap a budget? Or are retirees still buying security estate homes as a capital investment, enabling good rental income now along with an option later to live there themselves or sell? “We see some of our best returns on investment in our retirement property segment,” says Central Developments head of communication Alda Erasmus. This Gauteng developer has two popular retirement estates offering full ownership properties within a sectional title scheme. A two-bedroom apartment at Celebration Retirement Estate in Northriding starts from R1.28m. A two-bedroom apartment in Waterkloof Marina in Pretoria’s popular Waterkloof Ridge is priced from R1.8m.

“Retirement estates offering full ownership with lifestyle and frail care facilities on site are in short supply in Gauteng, yet there is a high demand for secure, service-enriched properties,” says Erasmus. “The strong demand and limited supply, coupled with full ownership, make these properties prime investments.” “One of the biggest fears among retirees today is that they would outlive their retirement funds. Therefore they need a retirement solution that allows them to plan accurately for their financial future,” says Evergreen Lifestyle sales director Phil Wilson. Evergreen’s life rights purchase model holds financial benefits including flexible pricing, transparent and affordable levies, reduced upfront costs and no special levies (the developer is responsible for upkeep). “Given the current state of the economy and the fact that many retirees are cash-strapped and battling to sell existing homes, Evergreen has introduced a vertically integrated initiative called ‘Move in Tomorrow’, which allows interested parties to move into a village before their property has sold.”

Apartments to let at Zevenwacht Lifestyle Estate in the Cape Winelands

Priorities

Wilson says priorities for Evergreen retirees are location and excellent security. “A great location seems to top the list. So developments that are semirural and offer beauty, tranquillity and access to the outdoors – parks, beaches or mountain walks – provide great enjoyment and an opportunity to remain fit and active.” Evergreen’s professionally run retirement villages all offer 24-hour security with access control, electric fencing, CCTV and patrols. “We’re seeing an increase in demand for retirement accommodation in semirural areas, offering relatively easy access to shops, restaurants and hospitals. Within the Evergreen portfolio, our Noordhoek, Val de Vie and Broadacres villages are a case in point,” he says. A two-bedroom, two-bathroom unit in Evergreen Noordhoek starts from R2.4m, whereas one with the same specs in Val de Vie Estate near Paarl starts from R3.7m. At leafy Broadacres Evergreen in Johannesburg you’d pay from R720,000 for a one-bedroom one-bathroom apartment. The Retreat Apartments are situated in Hazeldean, Pretoria East. The Retreat at Hazeldean is an estate that forms part of the Hazeldean mixed-use precinct being developed by Craft homes and Abland. A shopping centre within 5km has coffee shops, and Intercare Hazeldean has an ambulance service linked to The Retreat’s panic buttons.

“People in our apartments are often widows or widowers, usually of a more mature age than those in The Retreat’s freestanding homes on the same estate,” says Craft Homes marketing manager Jessica Cabanita. “We find that children often buy and move their parents into the apartments. Residents are generally looking for more affordable retirement options.” One-bedroom, one-bathroom apartments of 40m2start from R899,000, whereas 62m2 two-bedroom, one-bathroom units sell from R1.175m. Inside a two-storey building with lift access, the new development is part of an established estate with security and facilities. The Retreat’s 24 sectional title apartments were added at the end of 2020 and no transfer fees apply if you are buying from developer Craft Homes. Units have built-in ovens, hobs and extractors. The clubhouse has two heated indoor pools and an indoor cold pool as well as a gym, and the estate is next to Silver Lakes Golf Estate.

Waterkloof Marina in Pretoria

Modern convenience

When asked what retiree buyers look for, Rabie Properties director Mariska Auret says scaling down to a secure estate is a big factor, as is moving into a place where independence is encouraged – “where everything is modern, managed with the utmost care and living is just made so much easier”, she adds. “Our largest houses sold out first. While price remains an important factor, our purchasers love being part of a like-minded community in an attractive, secure environment with fantastic facilities at their disposal.”Rabie has existing owner-residents at Oasis Life Clara Anna Fontein, the retiree section of the multigenerational estate Clara Anna Fontein outside Durbanville.

Towards the coast, near Milnerton, Oasis Life Burgundy Estate in the Burgundy Estate node will accept its first retiree residents from August. Operating on a life rights system, Burgundy Estate has two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartments priced from R1.6m, and two-bedroom, two-bathroom houses from R2.33m. “The advantages of the Clara Anna Fontein and Burgundy Estate developments, based on feedback, is that the quality and presentation of our houses are excellent,” says Auret. “Security is of utmost importance. Other benefits are that they are energy-efficient, which reduces utility costs, and the orientation of homes maximises sunlight for warmth, whereas open-plan designs give flexibility of furniture placement.”

“The advantage of both Clara Anna Fontein and Burgundy Estate developments, based on feedback we’ve received, is that the quality and presentation of our houses are excellent” Mariska Auret, director, Rabie Property Group

Feeling connected

Estates where retirees feel connected to residents of all ages are in demand. “What sets us apart is that our Evergreen retirement village is right in the middle of the estate. It’s fully integrated and we experience authentic multigenerational living,” says Val de Vie marketing director Ryk Neethling. “Our retired residents can access any of the broader estate’s facilities, plus those specifically for Val de Vie Evergreen. It’s an active lifestyle that fits modern retirement perfectly.” Wilson adds that Evergreen plans to roll out similar villages in Sitari Country Estate in Somerset West, Westbrook in Gqeberha and Zimbali in KwaZulu-Natal. “We’re finding that retirement villages located within larger secure lifestyle estates are growing in popularity.” With value top of mind, estates offering rentals are also in demand. Zevenwacht Lifestyle Estate is developed by Multi Spectrum Property (MSP) Developments, Zevenwacht Wine Estate and Old Mutual. Situated on Zevenwacht Wine Estate in the Cape Winelands, it offers accommodation ranging from freestanding homes to independent living apartments. The estate recently added luxury “hotel-style” retirement suites to let. These semi-furnished units are located in the community centre.

“We have 15 luxury suites remaining that retirees can rent at the affordable monthly amount of R8,000,” says MSP Developments CEO Riaan Roos. The rental includes a monthly services levy, all daily meals and a weekly cleaning service. “That equates to only R267 per day to stay in a hotel-style environment in an amazing setting. This is truly exceptional value for money. The picturesque setting is a bonus.” The Retreat has picked up on this trend too. “We’ve had so much interest from people looking to rent rather than buy, as a lot of them didn’t plan adequately for retirement,” Cabanita says. “So, as an investing buyer interested in securing tenant rentals now, you know you have a place for your own retirement later.” When buying for retirement, Cabanita says, potential owners tend not take that next big step in a hurry. “Most of our buyers prefer to walk into the home and see the finishes and living spaces before they commit.” What about frail care and dementia facilities on site: are they essential or do they it put off residents still engaging in active lifestyles? Erasmus says these are a must-have. “This way couples are not separated if one of them falls ill,” she says. “And such facilities give even younger residents peace of mind knowing that they’re there should they ever need them.”

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