The international trend of purchasing smaller homes continues unabated and downsizing isn’t necessarily only a symptom of tough economic times. Many well-heeled homeowners are choosing to downsize to smaller properties that are easier to manage. In South Africa, this trend has been confirmed by the latest FNB Estate Agents Survey. As sellers, the choice to downsize rather than upscale is mainly due to these five factors:
With the price of fuel and traffic congestion on the increase, people are choosing to downscale the size of their homes to upsize their lifestyle. “Many people are opting to rather purchase a smaller home or an apartment closer to the city instead of a larger home in the suburbs so they can spend less time in traffic, spend less on fuel and spend more time with friends and family. It’s definitely a lifestyle choice that is driving sales,” says Glenda Luitingh, Branch Manager of Jawitz Properties Cape Town CBD & Atlantic Seaboard.
The most recent data reflects a decline in household wealth since last year. With pressures on disposable income, buyers are more interested in smaller, easier to maintain properties. The cost of general maintenance and the upkeep of gardens and pools has meant a shift away from larger homes to those that are easier to maintain.
As our population continues to age, many homeowners are looking to downscale from larger family homes to easy-to-manage, more compact properties. “Generally, once couples retire, they’ve been empty-nesters for some time and are looking to clear out their homes and live an easier, simpler life,” says Luitingh. A popular property choice for retirees is purchasing within a secure lifestyle estate, where smaller homes don’t mean a smaller life. Lifestyle estates oftentimes offer the necessary healthcare and support needed by older residents but also offer a wide variety of lifestyle and sports amenities, activities and wellness facilities.
Security remains one of the main factors for people choosing to downscale. Larger properties need fencing, beams, alarms and cameras to maintain a sense of security which is costly to install and maintain. Instead, buyers are more interested in smaller homes within a security estate or apartment complex that offers all the security as part of the purchasing price. Lock-up-and-go homes have and will continue to gain in popularity.
5. Family Dynamics
As family dynamics shift according to natural and unexpected lifecycles, so the need for upscaling and downsizing is impacted. Many family events that occur, such as divorce, death, debt or becoming empty nesters, make the decision to downscale common sense. “As with any situation, you need to adapt your living environment to the family’s current lifestyle needs,” says Luitingh.
The trend towards downscaling and downsizing property is also echoing a larger, more philosophical need for us to simplify our lives. More practically though, Luitingh concludes, “The high cost of living and the need for security will see the trend of downsizing and empty nesting continue”.