Ageing population will influence housing demand

Australia’s ageing population will bring significant change in housing demand, both in terms of location and dwelling type. The availability of suitable, comfortable, affordable and accessible housing is important for older people, and will factor as a significant influence of demand from both retiring households and investors. Currently there are just over 3 million Australians aged 65 and over, meaning that 1 in 7 persons fall into this age cohort. This number is projected to increase to 7.5 million by 2051, at which time 1 in 4 Australians will be aged 65 years and older.

The increase in the proportion of people aged over 65 has been caused by a number of factors:

Ageing population1

An ageing population has several influences on housing utilisation, all of which will impact on the nature of housing demand and rental opportunities.

Firstly, an ageing population requires more housing – this is because older persons tend to live alone or as couples, pushing down the overall occupancy of dwellings. As a greater proportion of our population ages, additional housing will be required to accommodate these households.

Secondly, - for older Australians, there is a clear preference to remain living in a detached house. 77% of persons aged 65 years and over presently live in a separate house. Proximity to services, particularly health care, is vital for these people. As such, the need for well-located and affordable accommodation is important.

Lastly, the degree to which older persons are able to move into more suitable accommodation is very much affected by a range of matters – from the availability of housing, to individual choice or family and financial circumstances.

It is well documented that older persons often choose to stay in their current home until their changing health or other personal circumstances necessitate a move – reflecting a personal preference to ‘age in place’ within their community.

Based on the 2011 census data, AHURI[1] found that 25% of all retiree households moved home during the previous five years. This number indicates that approximately 5% of all retiree households move each year, which is not insubstantial in terms of overall market size. Survey work undertaken by AHURI demonstrates that the vast majority of retiree households that ‘downsize’ move to a detached house, generally with a floor area of less than 200m2.

Ageing population

[1] AHURI, ‘Downsizing: Motivations, Processes and Outcomes for Older Australians’ Bruce Judd, Catherine Bridge, Hazel Easthope and Edgar Liu, Australian Housing Researchers Conference Fremantle WA, 2013

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