The right housing at the right time

4 September 2018

an older couple being shown development plans by a gentleman

The housing ladder, as a descriptor of the property market, may have had its day. Lifestyle choices, together with social and demographic change are establishing a much more complex pattern of ownership and housing need.

Recent studies by the NHBC Foundation have provided new insight on the varying housing needs people have throughout their life time, giving pointers on who we should build for, and the types of homes we should build for them.

Housing design will increasingly need to focus on the over-55s. On current projections, 2019 will be the first year when people in the 55 to 74 age group outnumber those aged 18 to 34. With a two million increase expected in this age group in the next couple of decades, it will be important for homes to meet the varying requirements of this growing sector, many of whom are seeking lifestyle changes, but remain active and independent.

The most rapid population increase is expected among the over-75s. This age group is anticipated to expand by 3.5 million over the next 20 years to reach 8.9 million by 2037. More innovation will be needed when designing homes for these people, in particular to provide them with adaptable, comfortable living spaces and communal facilities. A futurology study carried out by the NHBC Foundation gives special consideration to the types of homes that might evolve to support the over-75s.

The remaining home-buyer age groups, those aged 18 to 34 looking to invest in property for the first time and the 35 to 54 year olds in family homes, are predicted to remain fairly static into the future. Millennials looking for starter homes will increase by approximately 200,000 by 2037, and the 34 to 54 age group are set to decrease over the same period by 100,000. Homes suitable for first time buyers and families will still be needed, however these must meet the priorities that are most important to them. Buyers are becoming increasingly discriminating, seeking low maintenance and energy efficiency and not preoccupied solely with location.

At a glance – the changing home-buyer age groups over the next 20 years

  • 3.5 million - expected population increase in the 75+ age group
  • 2.1 million - expected population increase in the 55-74 age group
  • 200,000 - expected population increase in the 18-34 age group
  • 100,000 - expected population decrease in the 35-54 age group

Steve Wood, NHBC Chief Executive said: "The shifts in the UK’s population impacts on the homes we live in now, and the homes we need to build for the future. Our population is aging at its fastest ever rate so housing design will increasingly have to focus on the needs of the over-55s."

The facts about UK households come from the forthcoming NHBC Foundation publication, ‘40 facts: homes, housing and house building today’. Steve Wood added: "e have gathered together some interesting facts about UK housing and house building to give you a picture of the homes we live in today. As our population changes so does the need for a for a broader range of products and tenures."