Guest panel: Alan Beesley shares his insight on creating in-demand retirement market products

26 September 2018

The United Nations has revealed that by 2050, it is estimated that South Africa’s population is set to increase up to 65.5 million, with more than 10 million of that number being senior citizens. It’s safe to say that there will be a continuous need to improve the retirement property market. There is a huge gap in the retirement property market, and instead of creating standard buildings to house retirees, developers are really making a point of understanding the market and giving them what they want at reasonable prices. Gap Capital Director, Alan Beesley, has shared his insight on how powerful research can be in understanding the market and delivering an in-demand retirement product.

It is clear that although there is a need for retirement opportunities, those of you who are over 50 are not settling for a shared apartment or bedroom and a mundane lifestyle filled with TV shows. Developers, like Carmel Properties, have gone above and beyond to ensure they create a retirement lifestyle that is vibrant, attractive and considered.

“To create an in-demand retirement product you need to firstly understand your current market and future market needs. Secondly, the development must take into account and cater for the different needs of those buying for an investment and for those purchasing to live. Lastly, ensure your product has integrity. Buyers must be comfortable that they are purchasing into a development that is backed by trusted developers, with no hidden costs,” explains Alan Beesley, Gap Capital Director.

“There is a common mindset that buying into an off-plan development does carry risk. As developers we want our buyers to be at ease that their risk is minimised and that we as the developers are going to deliver a product that exceeds their expectations,” continues Beesley.

Research into the market has helped redefine the retirement property market, with campaigns like Retire KZN and independent developer research, retirement estates are resembling luxury lifestyle estates with onsite care centres and additional architectural design elements that cater to a mature market.

“We went through a process of doing extensive market research. This included both international and local research. As part of the research we visited numerous retirement estates and centres across the country. We also engaged extensively with key role players within the retirement sector, such as Tongaat Hulett Developments. It was critical for us to understand what the current and future generations of the target market would be looking for. What is working currently in the retirement market does not mean it will hold for future generations. We needed to pin-point what these areas were and build them into our research and ultimately into the development,” says Beesley.

Despite having researched the market and designed a development that is spot-on with regard to market needs and wants, the development team didn’t stop there. Post launch, interested buyers would engage with the Shoreline Sibaya team and give their feedback on the product; as a result Shoreline Sibaya has adapted their design on certain aspects and has even partnered with Lombard Insurance Company Limited to present a financial solution.

“A huge hurdle for many of our interested buyers has been trying to access bonds, guarantees or cash to secure a unit within Shoreline Sibaya. This is because many of our target market, whilst being asset rich, have a limited cash flow and as such are unable to access their assets to secure their units through traditional means. In order to overcome this problem, we designed, together with Lombard Insurance Company Limited, a means for buyers to secure their unit without having to go the traditional route,” explains Beesley.

“Additionally, we redesigned our available 2-bedroom apartments to make them more affordable. Many buyers were looking for a small unit but needed 2-bedrooms for grandchildren and visitors. We also made more parking bays available, as many buyers needed a minimum of two parking bays which we needed to accommodate,” continues Beesley.

Understanding the retirement market is fundamental and it goes beyond researching it before designing a product, you need to consider what many of the target market bring to your attention when you have launched the product. Being an off-plan development, while there are some key facets that need to remain constant, you do also need to have the flexibility to change certain aspects to accommodate the needs of the market as new insight comes to the fore. Retirement opportunities are very different to what we traditionally know, and they will continue to evolve and refine as we dig deeper into the different generations.

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