What does a frozen property market mean for retirement living? Kevin Shaw, MD

The housing market has been dealing with the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic and it’s likely that a degree of uncertainty will continue for some time.

While the industry gathers itself, above all else, the number one priority must be ensuring the health and wellbeing of people across the UK.

One of the most pressing issues has been what should happen for homebuyers either purchasing a retirement property, or planning to purchase one now. A time that can be stressful enough, without the added economic uncertainty that the spread of COVID-19 has brought to our everyday lives.

The Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick, attempted to provide some clarity for homebuyers on Thursday night. Without imposing a complete stop, Jenrick’s plans will instead put the brakes on the property market until the coronavirus restrictions are over. In his statement he urged buyers and sellers to “adapt and be flexible” without being too prescriptive.

People who are well - with no symptoms - moving into an empty property can press ahead, and this is welcome.

As well as this, those making “critical home moves” are exempt from the restrictions that the government has, for the time being, simply suggested.

What we urgently need is greater detail on what counts as a “critical home move”, and I believe this should absolutely include those moving into retirement villages. Retirement communities up and down the country will have moving dates scheduled for the coming weeks, and the vast majority of these will be people moving into either brand new or unoccupied properties.

Provided those homebuyers are well with no symptoms, and the correct procedures are followed to safeguard existing owners in the community, these moves should be allowed to go ahead as planned.

I genuinely believe that living in one our villages is one of the best places for people to be during this difficult time.

The level of support available to all our property owners is unrivalled. Our team is working incredibly hard to support all our owners' health and wellbeing. We’re introducing new initiatives every day, including online exercise guides, dance classes, virtual coffee mornings, online mediation workshops, and cooking classes to name just a few.

All of this is key to ensuring a strong sense of community continues in the village, and especially at a time when many of us, not just older people, are cut off from friends and family and are experiencing isolation and feelings of loneliness. Also, crucially, owners have access to care as and when then need it.

From meals, or shopping, dropped at the door though to full care support, this is something that is reassuring for all our owners, and their families, during this uncertain time.

Audley teams up and down the country are working to support each other, the people living in our villages and those we care for in the local community. From 'how to' guides to video calling, to our owners' app and online exercise videos.

If you are considering moving to a retirement village but find yourself questioning whether now is the right time, please be reassured. Our helpful team can call you back via your preferred choice of video call.