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5 ways to make your investment property appeal to older Australians

By Rich Harvey, CEO, propertybuyer.com.au

Where do our retirees live? Recent research from CoreLogic RP Data shows that the prevailing trend for Australians over 65 is to move out of the city, and settle in quieter lifestyle spots. Great Lakes, Eurobodalla, Gloucester and Urana are the four councils in NSW with the highest proportion of over-65s.

What will ageing Australians need in their real estate?
What will ageing Australians need in their real estate?

However, that doesn't mean people aren't settling in and around Sydney. Considering the national retirement-age population is going to jump by four million in the next 15 years, that means investment properties and incoming developments need to cater for this incredibly important renting and buying audience. But what does this mean? We've got five key components of a home that will appeal to older Australians.

Stable bathrooms

One of the most important places for catering to an older demographic is the bathroom. Hand rails, baths and basins that are designed for people with mobility impairments will be key in the coming years.

This means ensuring that the walls can be outfitted with rails that are load-bearing, planning for the installation of new baths and sinks years from now, and even thinking about the fittings and finishes. It can be expensive to completely renovate a bathroom to address this - picking a home that already has it, or even building one from scratch, could be the way forward.

Ample space

Most of the time, doors in NSW real estate wil be 820mm wide, which gives enough space for zimmer frames, wheelchairs and the like. However, there are a lot of properties that have 770mm doors, which are not big enough.

If your rental property or current home is going to be used by older Australians, having enough width for mobility aids and space to turn in hallways is going to be crucial.

Spacious kitchens

Outfitting a kitchen for retirees is similar to how you address the bathroom. If mobility aids are required, the internal structure of the building has to support it. You also need to have enough space for turning in a wheelchair - think about the space oven and pantry doors take up in this situation as well.

Outdoor accessibility

Homes that make it simple to get from A to B will be top of the list for many aged residents.

Not every older Australian is going to require a mobility aid, but making accessibility a priority is still important for both investors and developers. As well as ensuring ramps are available alongside staircases, functioning elevators in multi-storey buildings is essential.

Homes that make it simple to get from A to B will be top of the list for many aged residents.

The right kind of garage

Parking spaces and garages add a lot of value to investment properties, but these need to have enough space for older Australians. A 2.5 metre wide garage means you can hardly fit in the door, let alone do this with mobility impairments.

A report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that 69 per cent of older Australians still had access to a car in metropolitan areas. Despite public transport options and mobility issues, it is crucial that investors take the design of garages into consideration.

This is just the tip of the iceberg.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Furniture, shower design, capping corners, easy-to-open windows and doors could all be important considerations. Most governments worldwide now have some kind of policy on designing homes to be helpful for dementia sufferers as well.

Our ageing population will not solely reside in retirement homes or granny flats. Many people will continue to be self-sufficient and live on their own or with a partner, and home design needs to reflect that. If your investment property is going to cater to this group of people, there's a lot to take on board. 

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