What’s Good for the Goose
Microsoft co-founder, Bill Gates, thinks that we overestimate the amount of change which will happen over two years but underestimate the amount of change over ten. This certainly seems to be the case with housing. Our tastes move on hugely over a decade as new materials, technology, design, our experiences of staying in modern hotels and even watching reality home shows on the television increasingly influence us. Public opinion and governmental policy also have their effect. The Grenfell Tower disaster will prove to be another turning point.
But underlying all these developments are the changes we see in our own lives; the amount of space we need to occupy, running costs, convenience and the time that could be spent doing other things - sometimes at stages in life like parenthood or retirement when time is increasingly precious.
Retirees for example have much to consider. Do they want to continue living in large family houses when there is no large family living there anymore? And the desire to head off to the country or coast, once the dream of many, is being overtaken by the desire to live in an exciting urban environment where there is life, opportunity, convenience and grandchildren. Growing old gracefully is no longer an appealing prospect to many.
In the new homes sector this is a big challenge. Few of us live or want to live in the same way we used to. Developers must work out how people will want to live tomorrow and then create that model today. For some this might seem courageous speculation, but that doesn’t make it wrong.
In the pre-owned home sector there are different challenges. We are beginning to see a real trend in adapting dated, multi-zone living spaces that segregate people within the home into larger more inclusive multi-functional areas. Eating, dining, entertaining and relaxing with family and friends are now desired in one large single-function area where the bi-fold door finally brings nature indoors and makes the garden an integral part of the house.
Therefore buying a home has become akin to trading in an old car for a brand new one. When most people buy a new car today they expect plenty of innovative features, not the same outdated ones their old car possessed. A new car is a finely engineered and brilliantly designed machine for driving. Buyers of all ages now think that a home should be a finely engineered and brilliant machine for living.
Those who seek to leave their old homes behind and look forward to enjoying all the benefits that the next one should offer might spare a thought for the people they want to sell to. Don’t these buyers crave modern styles and fittings also? Home sellers should remember that and either make their home attractive to the modern buyer or accept that the price will have to reflect essential modernisation works. After all, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.