Boomers worth their weight in gold
Although it is the Generation X population, which consists of adults between the ages of 31 and 45, that are leading the property market recovery, baby boomers are making their presence felt in the market, says Adrian Goslett, CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.
Goslett says that as more and more South African consumers reach retirement age, downsizing boomers aged between 47 and 65 years old could bring about further resurgence in the property market. "With many of these homeowners having built equity in their homes over the years, as well as other investments, boomers may be the first demographic to move in the emerging market when other ages groups are still struggling to meet the stringent lending criteria required by banks," he says.
Goslett notes that because their children have moved out of home, the boomer generation is expected to trade their suburban homes for lifestyle options that meet their current needs. This, coupled with that fact that many boomers are looking to buy additional property as an investment to supplement their retirement income, or are assisting their children in making property purchases, makes them a valuable asset to the economy. "Many of the real estate agents have baby boomer clients who already own property and are looking to purchase an investment or retirement property. A number of these buyers are purchasing property that they can rent out to generate an income or to move into once they reach the age where they wish to retire," says Goslett.
Statistics show that the population demographic in South Africa sees baby boomers making up a much smaller percentage of the population than Generation X. Between the years 1950 and 1965 there were 13,5 million births in South Africa (baby boomers) compared with the 18,74 million births (Generation X) between 1965 and 1985. According to John Loos, FNB Home Loan Strategist, while the most noticeable increase in the property buying share was among the Generation X group who made up 28,1% of the total purchases in the first quarter of 2011, the Baby Boomers buying share increased to 21.17% of the total purchases in the first quarter of this year, despite being a demographically smaller group. The FNB Property Barometer for the third quarter of 2011 stated that 22% of all buyers gave downscaling with life-stage as a reason for selling their property.
Trends show that boomers tend to favour areas that attract a wide variety of people and they generally purchase property that is close to their original homes or primary residence. Boomers seem to like open-floor plans, lots of storage space and specifically his and hers master bedroom cupboards and gardens featuring decks. Other amenities on the must-have list include fireplaces and bars.
"The baby boomer generation has driven the South African economy for years and continues to contribute towards the property market´s recovery in their retirement. Many of these investors are looking at buying properties based on the rental income they will generate and not necessarily for their resale potential. The baby boomers are a very diverse group and cannot be described in generalities, but those boomers who are financially secure are actively seeking to buy property and they are taking advantage of the opportunities and value available in today´s market," Goslett concludes.