A report published recently in the UK shows that homeownership among young people has declined sharply. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that the days when home buyers were mainly young couples getting ready to settle down are over.
In fact, the proportion of home buyers under 35 years of age has fallen to just under 43% in recent years. Only one tenth of millennials between 16 and 24 years old own property in the UK nowadays, compared to nearly a third in the early 1990s.
In contrast, home ownership has increased steadily among the older age groups since the early eighties. In 2011-12, people aged 65 to 74 years old in the UK accounted for over three quarters of homeowners.
Marketing to an older generation of home buyers
The statistics above reflect the realities of the housing market in the UK, however it’s a good thing for Maltese home sellers to stay abreast of local and international housing trends and make sure they’re not caught unaware by them.
In my opinion, the situation in the UK teaches home sellers in Malta, and the people they trust to market their property, two important lessons.
The first lesson is to become more sensitive to the needs of a more experienced and sophisticated crop of buyers. The second lesson is that sellers need to ensure the property they intend to sell is attractive to people of all ages, especially for older buyers.
More experienced and sophisticated buyers are looking at your property
According to the ONS, first-time buyers in the UK peaked in number almost thirty years ago. Nowadays, a growing number of people turning up for home viewings are seasoned homeowners who are either looking to upgrade or downsize their homes as they mature in life.
What this means to home sellers and real estate agents is that they need to engage with these buyers in a way that aligns with their intentions, as well as respects their knowledge about the home buying process.
Unlike first-time buyers, mature buyers tend to have a clearer idea of what they want and aren’t keen on wasting time in acquiring it. They’re also more likely to be able to afford property in higher price brackets, but only if they can ascertain beyond doubt that the property will fit with their lifestyle.
Sellers must start taking extra care to age-proof their property
As the profile of the typical homeowner experiences a major generation shift upwards, sellers must ensure that property can adequately cater for the needs of older people in order to maximise their chances of selling their homes.
Older people are likely to be more aware of their physical limitations and will double-check that a house poses no problems to their day-to-day living before deciding to move in.
These concerns also extend to the psychosocial aspects of homeownership. Older buyers are more conscious of the need for peace and privacy in their homes, however without sacrificing convenience.
Sellers owning property located in green areas or city outskirts, which nonetheless enjoy excellent access to amenities, should promote these characteristics more heavily as the key value propositions of their offering.
A perfect storm of economic and cultural forces
As the housing markets in the UK, Malta and Europe in general become more dynamic, it is more important than ever to keep a close eye on learning points from foreign markets that can be applied to the local scenario. This must be done in order to preempt any changes when they inevitably hit our shores.
Additionally, we at HomeSaleMalta.com like to encourage our clients to think globally and position the property they’re selling in Malta as an ideal home for international buyers, whose experience of house ownership is coloured by what they experience in their country of origin.
But what about our plucky millennials? According to the same ONS study, rising house prices seems to be the major factor discouraging them from owning a home early in life, along with increasing deposits.
This is very similar to what is happening in Malta, as more young people are seeking rental property, leaving sellers and agents with a harder job to market homeownership to them.