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 – PHOTOS: SUPPLIED
The property market has changed significantly during 2020, with cash buyers and bargain hunters picking up good deals. As a rule, potential homeowners are becoming more picky in search of real value and buyers in every age category are thinking twice about investing. It follows that many retirees about to make their most significant personal lifestyle investment are now having to adjust their sights to make their budgets stretch. Against this backdrop, only developers approaching retirement developments with flexible financial, home and care options for residents are likely to stay in the game HomeFront asked four developers what they consider to be retirement must-haves right now. According to Rainmaker Marketing director Stefan Botha, there are not enough offerings that suit the pockets of this market. “As a result of lockdown, people have really prioritised what lifestyle they want as a family, from a convenience 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, 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. “That is why 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.
While few traditional retirement home models would fit those requirements, an Evergreen life rights model allows flexibility – residents do not own their properties but rather acquire the right to live in the homes for the remainder of their (and their partner’s) lives. “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,” says Taylor. “The options are very flexible for our residents. They are 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. This developer also prides itself on offering 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 are older and single following the death of a spouse. It’s convenient, as they are right next to the operational frail care 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 2020. “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 begin marketing them towards the end of the year.”
“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” Stefan Botha, director, Rainmaker Marketing
“Life rights is so much more than merely a financial return on your investment. It’s about offering a stress-free standard of living” Miguel Rodrigues, director, Rabie Property Group
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. Maintenance, management and resales also form 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 standalone home or even sectional title option cannot deliver on,” says Miguel Rodrigues, one of the directors at Rabie Property Group. “Our Oasis Life developments are perfectly geared for navigating through times like these. While concerns about congregate living may be valid, a new-generation retirement estate or village has tremendous benefits. “Retirement estates provide both primary health and social supports. While safe physical isolation is possible thanks to the design of the estate, families may find comfort in support, including delivery or take-away option meals, continuous provision of primary healthcare and services such as laundry.”
Botha says Rainmaker’s retirement data has shown that the cost of frail care and assisted living is one of the biggest challenges from a care perspective. “There is 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. It can apply to life rights and 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 in Chakas Rock, KwaZulu-Natal, was designed specifically with over-50s in mind. The 53 apartments offer facilities focused on modern active living and socialisation, offering residents “a truly coastal lifestyle with geographical positioning key to its desirability”. These two- and three-bedroom apartments are priced from R2.195m. Wellness needs are met through on-site healthcare in the form of a dedicated estate doctor’s rooms and mobile nursing services.
What will separate future successful developers from the rest? “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 it 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. All units in this development have prepaid electricity meters and basic healthcare services are included. A fully operational frail care centre is located 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 non-negotiable for any modern retirement estate developer. It is 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.