The most asked questions from new residents in a retirement estate
What do pensioners want?6th Jul 2022
Buying a home is a big decision but doing it in your senior years can be even more stressful and daunting. It is natural for older buyers to have concerns about investing in a retirement estate, especially if they haven’t lived in an estate before. The good news is most of the questions below can be taken care of quickly with some reassuring responses.
1. Which ownership option is right for me?
This is probably the most baffling question for older buyers. As Nick Gaertner, director, and chief operations officer at Knight Frank explains, most retirement estates operate on a life right model, which isn’t common and not much information is available about it.
‘Buyers need to know that although cheaper than a freehold or sectional title home, buying a life right essentially means entering a contract with the developer to purchase the right to occupy the property for the duration of their life. Unlike the traditional purchase of a property, ownership remains with the developer and the home cannot be passed onto a child or beneficiary upon death,’ he explains.
Gaertner adds that a life right buyer will never lose their initial capital investment used to purchase the property. ‘Upon their death, the original purchase price of the life right is returned to the buyer’s estate, which means they do not benefit from capital growth – another important factor to let buyers know.’
2. What kind of care facilities are available?
Continuous care is one of the main reasons why older folks decide to move into a retirement estate says Barry Kaganson, CEO of AuriaSenior Living, a developer and operator of gold-standard senior living communities in South Africa.
‘Over 40% of those over 80 require additional support and care to assist then with their daily tasks. At Auria we take the care of our residence with utmost importance, with community managers on hand to show new residents around and ensure nobody feels isolated,’ he explains.
Quality care can mean many things to different people. ‘For some it’s knowing that their frail care needs are being taken care off; for others it’s knowing that they don’t need to worry about everyday maintenance like mowing the lawn and upkeep of the outside areas whilst for others it being able to enjoy an independent and uncompromised lifestyle,’ adds Kaganson.
3. How safe will I be?
Security is foremost on everyone’s mind these days and especially so for older folk who often feel more vulnerable. ‘This is why many retirees choosing retirement lifestyle villages – they get to enjoy outdoor activities and communal gatherings in a safe environment, and they can walk around their neighbourhoods without fearing for their safety,” says Chris Cilliers, CEO and co-principal for Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty in the Winelands.
4. What are the costs involved?
As people age, they have two main concerns – their health and their finances. Older people like to have predictability of costs with set levies and no major financial surprises says Kaganson.
‘One of the benefits of having an owner run and managed estate under a life rights model is that the homeowner has certainty of costs. As everything is done inhouse, they do not have to pay extra for outsourced services and benefit from having an experienced management agent as opposed to board of directors made up of residents with vested interests,’ he continues.
5. What is nearby?
Location is important, but especially when the buyers are older. ‘It is very important that the potential buyer does not feel that they are moving far away from where they have previously lived. They want to know they are close to convenience shops and social clubs as well near to their doctor, and hospital,’ says Kerry Bailey, property sales specialist at Tyson Properties, Umhlanga, and Ballito.
6. How old is everyone else?
No one wants to be the oldest person in a retirement estate or the youngest says Beverly Bloch, retirement sales executive for Pam Golding Properties in Cape Town’s Southern Suburbs.
‘In most estates like Quadrant Gardens in Claremont Upper for example, the average age of residents is late 70’s but we do have occupants who are in their 60s. Buyers want to know that there are other people of the same age as them,’ she adds.
7. Can I bring my pets?
This is a huge factor which is often overlooked until the very last minute says Greg Rhodes-Jones, property sales specialist at Tyson Properties Midlands and Glenwood.
‘Older buyers usually have spent their entire lifetime with a pet dog or cat. Being able to bring their pets with them is especially concerning for buyers of apartments,’ he concludes.
If you’re not already a pet friendly estate, perhaps this should be considered. The Great Oaks Retirement Village is just one example of a development that is set to offer luxury cottages and hotel-style apartments in Constantia in Cape Town. There’s lots of data showing that retirees feel more content and secure when they’re allowed to keep their pets and developments that differentiate themselves in this space are likely to attract more interest.