How to appeal to older renters
The demographics of the private rented sector (PRS) are changing. Young professionals and students are no longer the dominant group in the rental market, with a profound increase in the number of people over 30 choosing to rent their home. This is a trend letting agents need to be aware of as there are clear differences between what this group looks for in a home compared to younger generations.
A growing force
According to Countrywide, over 30s now account for 60 per cent of all PRS tenants. It found the number of renters in this demographic increased six per cent in 2013, with the biggest growth coming in the 41 to 50 age group, which rose by 2.2 per cent to account for 16.3 per cent of total tenants.
The organisation claimed the growing prominence of older renters is partly due to a fall in the number of young people living in the sector. It said the tough economic climate means many individuals under 30 choose to live at home for longer as they cannot afford to move out. Evidence of this is provided by the fact the number of renters in this group dropped by 5.8 per cent last year.
Countrywide stated: “Prospective property buyers who are unable to get on the housing ladder by the age of 35 are increasingly living in the private rented sector for longer.
“There are varying reasons why people rent for longer but many choose to do so because they enjoy the flexibility it offers their lifestyle, especially in terms of job mobility.”
Perhaps one of the most striking elements of the growth of over 30s in the PRS is the number of retirees who are choosing to rent. According to Prudential, 26 per cent of retired people live in the sector, with the majority of these based in large cities.
The organisation believes this is motivated by finances, with 40 per cent of retired renters having sold off their house and moved into a rental home in a bid to pay off their debts. Close to one in five had done so to meet the costs of a separation or divorce, while nine per cent sold their home simply as a means of boosting their income.
Stan Russell, Prudential retirement expert, stated: “Renting in retirement can make financial sense and accessing property wealth to boost retirement income is a genuine solution for many.”
Such is the growing number of retirees in the rental sector that Peter Girling, head of Girlings Retirement Rentals, has called on the government to invest in developing more homes built with this group in mind.
With over 30s now accounting for the majority of tenants, letting agents need to adjust their practices accordingly to cater to this demand. It is hard to make generalisations, as what a 35-year-old looks for in a property is likely to be quite different to that of a 55-year-old, so it’s best to judge each tenant on a case-by-case basis.
As a rule, renters in the upper region of this age group will be looking for quiet homes that are located away from main roads. Many of the people in their 30s who choose to rent will have children, meaning proximity to schools and safety would be top concerns when looking for a home.
The good news is that older renters tend to be wealthier, meaning there is the potential to draw in higher rents – always a positive for agencies.