Governments pushing retirees from empty nests into towers

STATE and federal governments are driving vertical retirement living development to free up under-utilised existing housing stock, an expert has said.

Queensland University of Technology Professor Chris Eves said there was a desire by government to get the elderly out of three and four bedroom homes and into one and two bedroom retirement villages.

Only eight per cent of the demographic currently live in that type of accommodation.

Professor Eves said a lot of the earlier retirement villages were built on greenfield sites which meant retirees then had to be attracted to a new location.

"At that age they are fairly entrenched where they live and are hesitant to move,'' he said, citing issues around security and social networks.

Professor Eves said by consolidating properties and going vertical developers could go high in areas with aging populations.

"It's the biggest trend we have seen,'' he said.

However a lack of understanding continued to exist about the various forms of "ownership" in the structures and there was also distrust about the operators' ongoing capacity to deliver.

Professor Eves said development of retirement villages without the provision of services would not work over time because they would promise the dream and not deliver.

Equally if management fees were too high, despite the security they delivered, those who were reliant on superannuation may reach a point where they could no longer afford it as interest rates changed.

Prof Eves said if vertical assisted living accommodation failed it could be put to an alternative use but that would only be a benefit to those who held secure title.

"Self-funded retirees would look at it as a viable alternative buying close to where they lived,'' he said.

Prof Eves said while some would have options if the experience didn't turn out to be what they had expected, others would put everything into the purchase.

He said all the legal issues needed to be considered, not just whether "this is a nice unit".

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