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Age-friendly housing pays off

Providing properties that cater to New Zealand’s ageing population is a financially sensible proposition for investors, a design certification advocate says.

Friday, August 12th 2016, 1:00PM

by Miriam Bell

New Zealand’s population is ageing: one in five people will be 65+ by 2030.

As the population ages it is becoming less mobile, with over 50% of those over 65 in 2030 likely to be suffering from some form of disability. 

And the country’s housing stock is poorly equipped to deal with these changing demographics.

For example, just 2% of Auckland’s new housing stock is likely to be designed to cater for people with mobility or disability issues.

Lifemark is a not-for-profit charity which operates a certification scheme for the design of new homes that cater to the elderly, disabled, or less mobile.

Lifemark general manager Geoff Penrose said the dwelling designs and standards they advocate are more likely to meet the needs of a changing demographic.

“Home ownership rates are changing and, in future, there will be a lot more older people renting.

“Our standards are very attractive to many older rental clients – who often make better tenants as they are more settled and likely to stay in a tenancy for longer.”

This gives properties that are age-friendly and accessible broader appeal and marketability and is something that should be appealing to investors and landlords, he said.

“It’s all about creating an environment [in a property] that differently abled and older people feel comfortable living in, that they will stay longer in.”

It makes good financial sense to do so, Penrose said.

“Not only are age-friendly, accessible properties good rental propositions as they attract a broader range of tenants, but meeting the necessary design standards adds value to properties.”

Designing and building age-friendly, accessible dwellings does not add significant extra costs on to a build or development project.

The type of features required include wider doorways, increased spaces, better designed stairways, non-slip surfaces, reachable power points and easy to use taps, window latches and light switches.

Penrose said that if people think about such features and work towards the necessary standards early on in the design and building process the cost is negligible.

Further, building age-friendly, accessible properties could soon pay off with local authorities.

Lifemark is working with a number of councils around New Zealand – including the Auckland Council - to ensure sufficient quantities of age-friendly housing is built to cater to changing demographic needs.

As a result, the Thames-Coromandel District Council has recently amended its planning regulations to reward those who build to Lifemark standards.

Penrose said that, in the Thames-Coromandel District, anyone building a home with a floor area less than 60m squared is now advised to seek Lifemark certification prior to lodging a building consent.

Lifemark-approved properties are permitted to have an increased maximum site coverage (40% instead of 35%) and maximum gross floor area (60m2 instead of 50m2).

“Also, under proposed changes to Thames-Coromandel’s district plan, a minor unit attached to an existing dwelling designed to Lifemark standards will not require resource consent.

“This will save $1400 in fees as well as the cost of preparing the resource consent application.”

While the Thames-Coromandel District Council’s move is a New Zealand first, Penrose is hopeful that other councils around the country will follow suit.

Auckland real estate agent Paul Neshausen said developers and builders should consider customising properties for an ageing population in much the same way they target other market segments.

“Whether it's due to age, mobility issues or simply the need to downsize, retirees and the elderly will make up a significant number of future buyers with specific requirements.

“This represents a unique opportunity to those in the building industry.”
 

 

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Heartland Bank - Online - - - -
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HSBC Premier LVR > 80% - - - -
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HSBC Special - - - -
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Kiwibank 5.80 ▼4.14 ▲4.30 4.64
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Kiwibank - Offset 5.15 - - -
Kiwibank Special - ▼3.39 ▲3.55 3.89
Liberty 5.69 - - -
Napier Building Society - - - -
Nelson Building Society 5.70 4.25 4.15 -
Pepper Money Near Prime 5.64 - 5.44 5.44
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Pepper Money Specialist 7.59 - 7.39 7.39
Resimac 4.50 4.86 3.89 3.94
RESIMAC Special - - - -
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SBS Bank Special - ▼3.55 3.39 3.89
Sovereign 5.30 4.15 4.29 4.55
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The Co-operative Bank - Owner Occ 5.15 3.49 3.59 3.89
The Co-operative Bank - Standard 5.15 3.99 4.09 4.39
TSB Bank 6.09 4.35 4.25 4.69
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TSB Special 5.29 3.55 3.45 3.89
Wairarapa Building Society 5.70 4.85 4.99 -
Westpac 5.34 4.15 4.09 4.49
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Median 5.34 4.04 4.09 4.39

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