Barratt London has reported an influx of downsizers moving to their Greater London developments in search of the perfect blend of green space and accessibility.
The housebuilder’s own data shows that 45 per cent of all purchasers in the last three months have been aged over 50 at their Ridgeway Views scheme, in the sought-after North London village of Mill Hill, moving from both within and outside the capital.
This downsizing trend is affirmed by a survey conducted by Barratt London, noting that two in three of over 50’s currently living in London (68 per cent) have already or are open to downsizing, and that 23 per cent of these are currently undertaking active steps to downsize. Amongst this group of homeowners, a staggering 76 per cent of respondents to the survey, which was targeted at those aged 50+ living in London, were empty nesters. 71 per cent own their property outright, and 70 per cent live in a property with three or more bedrooms.
However, despite reports of many city dwellers fleeing the capital due to the pandemic, for these equity-rich Londoners, downsizing does not automatically involve moving away from the city. Whilst 67 per cent agree with the statement, “Downsizing presents an opportunity to move to a different area”, only 32 per cent of over 50’s agree with the statement, “Downsizing means moving further away from London”. The level of agreement with this last statement falls further to just 21 per cent amongst over 50’s currently living in Zones 1 & 2, indicating that the majority are not willing to compromise their central London lifestyle when it comes to moving.
Key motivations for downsizing are a mix of financial and wellbeing. 74 per cent of over 50’s in London who have already downsized or planning to do so attribute financial motivations to downsizing. This includes motivations such as reducing property maintenance (54%), lowering household bills (46%), financing retirement plans (30%), and releasing equity (27%). Whilst half of the survey respondents (48 per cent) ascribe their reasons for moving as health related, such as improving wellbeing (20%), conducting a healthier lifestyle (12%), greater access to green space (9%) and improving their immediate environment (14%).
Beyond the expected upheaval of moving home, 41% of over 50’s in London highlight stamp duty costs as the highest factor that will discourage them from buying a downsized property. This rises to 52% amongst those who have downsized already and 47% for those planning to downsize.
Unsurprisingly then, downsizers were found to be looking for a new lifestyle centred on delivering convenience and relaxation. The survey reveals that having private outdoor living space (51%), such as a garden or balcony, was number one on the list as the most important factor when downsizing, followed by dedicated off-street parking (37%) and proximity to family and friends (36%).
The survey did highlight gender differences, however. Women are likely to place more importance of private outdoor living space (59%) and proximity to family and friends (44%) whereas men are likely to place more importance on views of open space from the property (29%) and fast transport links to central London (29%).
The need for green space was again seen when asked which elements of their life they value more since lockdown, with 70 per cent putting access to private outdoor space as their number one, closely followed by proximity to family (65 per cent), maintaining physical health (65 per cent), maintaining wellbeing & mental health (65 per cent), and access to outdoor public spaces and parks (63 per cent).
Pam Reardon, Director of Sales and Marketing at Barratt East London, commented: “This shift in priorities is one of the big reasons why Ridgeway Views has resonated so well with this category of buyers. It is a Zone 4 location but located within the Mill Hill conservation area, perched on a hilltop overlooking the Totteridge Valley. There is a balcony or terrace with every home here, and we’ve planted over 4,000 trees for a real back-to-nature atmosphere.”
Pam continued: “Many of our buyers have moved from larger period homes in neighbourhoods such as Harrow, Hampstead and Highgate, looking for access to friends and family locally. A new-build uniquely offers them low maintenance, security and connectivity.”
“The best of both is hard to find, but we’ve struck a chord here at Mill Hill.”