Over a third of purchasers in new developments in London in 2016 were over the age of 50, compared with just one fifth of buyers in 2013. This makes sense as older generations are downsizing from multistorey family homes once the kids have flown the nest, in some cases to free-up capital to help millennials step onto the housing ladder.
New build flats offer optimised space without the nooks and crannies of a period property, along with a low level of maintenance and a lock-up-and-leave option. These are all things the over 50s look for to suit their flexible lifestyle and willingness to travel.
Increasingly the search for a new build property is conducted on a London-wide basis, with focus at a specific price point. More buyers are considering moving from traditional residential locations to regeneration areas such as White City or King’s Cross, considered relatively good value for money with the potential for future rental and capital growth.
Developers are now tasked with appealing to our ageing population and the evolution of the marketing process and associated technology is playing a key part in changing the perception of buying off-plan.
Historically, British buyers don’t like purchasing property they haven’t seen. Unlike a secondhand purchase, where a buyer can walk around and touch and feel their prospective home, an off-plan sale relies on the vision to see something which won’t appear from the ground for months or years to come. But thanks to advances in technology, buying off-plan is becoming an increasingly immersive and innovative experience, with more people than ever before willing to purchase a home that hasn’t been built yet.
Housebuilding in London is expected to peak at 46,000 homes in 2017 (the highest level of delivery since the 1930s) and the increased competition has forced developers to adapt their marketing methods. Buyers now expect all the material possible: floor plans, projected rental yields, detailed local knowledge, such as crime stats and transport times, to make an informed and timely decisions.
Virtual reality has become an increasingly popular way of selling off-plan in recent years, though while some older buyers welcome the chance to try it out, others can find this sales approach overly complicated. Fortunately, there is a plethora of sophisticated marketing tools at our disposal that go beyond the traditional brochure and price list.
For large-scale schemes, marketing suites provide an in-depth and unrivalled sales experience. Interactive models detail the regeneration of an area, proposed phasing and the journey through a building. Show apartments illustrate the quality of materials, room layouts and ceiling heights, bringing a floor plan to life. The importance of dressing this space effectively is paramount, which is why many developers pay big name interior designers to work their magic on these marketing suites.
More than ever it’s the quality of the product which is the deciding factor. To appeal to the older generation, developers have to harness and invest in new design and marketing technologies to ensure their scheme stands out to this very discerning buyer group.
A version of this blog first appeared in CityAM