Retirement market holds up as web savvy retirees look east

The over 55s are looking east for retirement properties, and increasingly finding them on the web, a new report from leading retirement property estate agent Retirement Homesearch (RHS) has revealed.

The report shows that while Bournemouth still topped RHS' 2011 table for volume of sales, it was East Anglian cities like Ipswich and Norwich that saw huge year-on-year growth at 240% and 69% respectively.

While the general (or ‘open') housing market has been slow since the economic crash, and is expected to remain so for at least another year, the specialist retirement housing sector remains positive overall.

Properties marketed and sold by RHS in 2011 show a reasonably fast-moving market. A quarter (26%) were sold less than 90 days after they went on the market, comparing well with the open market, where property usually takes over three months to go from ‘on the market' to ‘under offer' according to 2011 data from Hometrack. The same proportion (24%) sold for within 1% of the asking price.

Usage trends from RHS' show the site received 213,000 unique visits in 2011, compared to 205,000 in 2010. This backs up research commissioned by RHS in August 2011 which found that a growing number of over 55s, nearly (60%), said they will search online when they buy their next home – citing the convenience of using the internet as the main reason (74%). 

David Gabriel, head of Retirement Homesearch, said, "In times of economic hardship across the globe, we will always see negatives. But in this context, sales of specialist property designed for the over 55s who want to live independently without the burden of managing a large family home have held up well in 2011. Given the strength of sales in some of the newer hotspots and the increased use of the web, we expect sales in 2012 to outperform the open market."