European countries are ageing at a different pace and to a different degree and some countries have more potential for growth than others, Lydia Brissy, Director, European Research, Savills, told Real Asset Media’s Senior Housing & Healthcare Investment Briefing in London recently.
Savills’ research team has developed the Senior Housing Opportunity index, which has examined different European countries’ demographic trends, the maturity of their housing markets and the private wealth of their elderly populations to pinpoint the most promising markets for investors.
Germany takes the top spot for potential because it has the largest elderly population (7.8 million 70-79 year-olds) and the best savers. The highly liquid property market makes it easier for Germans to disinvest once they reach retirement age, yet senior housing is not an established market yet.
France is in second place because of a relatively wealthy elderly population and a high saving rate. ‘It is a fast-growing market and the tight housing regulations do not apply to age-restricted residences’, Brissy said. ‘The senior housing model is growing fast’.
The UK is in third place because the market is more mature, more liquid and faster-moving than any other in Europe and also the least regulated.
Italy is in fourth place because it has the highest share of elderly people as a percentage of the population, a high savings rate and generous pensions. Poland is in fifth place. ‘It has one of the fastest growing elderly populations in Europe, which will more than double in the next ten years, and it has the lowest number of dwellings per inhabitant, which makes it a great prospective country for the senior housing market’, she said.
Just beyond the top five there is Spain, which has great potential, Austria and the Nordic countries.
‘Understanding people’s needs and expectations is key to making a good investment,’ Brissy said. ‘Surveys show that most people (69%) would rather stay in their own home, but senior housing would be their second choice and they would be willing to adapt’.
Quality of life is very important: 83% of elderly people in Europe are satisfied with their lives, compared to 70% working-age people.
Surveys show that they are prepared to adapt to senior housing if it provides some key components like quality, security, calm and stability. Accommodating pets seems to be a real game-changer, Brissy said: ‘90% of elderly people say the presence of a pet in their home is important and 63% would refuse to move without their pet, even to a residence more suited to their needs’.