The growth of baby boomers whose children have fled the nest is set to have a significant impact on the Australian property market.
According to Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Family and Household Projections report, the number of empty nester households in the country will grow by 14 per cent by 2021. Many are keen to downsize, the Australian reports.
The paper notes that estate agents are well aware of the growing trend for empty nesters to move into apartments in city centres.
Discussing this, Melbourne developer Jeff Provan told the paper it has not always proved easy to establish what this demographic wants when downsizing.
He remarked: "It's a fickle area in terms of buyer profile and their expectations and what they are prepared to buy into.
"Everyone in this area has previously played a fairly conservative role because they think the buyer profile is conservative, but it's probably a long way from that."
The apartments developed by Mr Provan are large and towards the upper end of the market, with many empty nesters demonstrating significant financial means now they no longer have dependent children. However, in many places there are shortages of homes of this size.
Brisbane is one such place. Simon Caulfield of Place Estate Agents said: "We've started asking developers why they don't make bigger apartments, because when we sell houses for our clients they have nowhere to go."
He noted that when a development of 23 large apartments came up for sale in the suburb of Newstead, 21 were sold immediately, including two out of three luxury units priced from $3.2 million and $3.5 million.
In many cases the developers are understanding the trend and building accordingly, as shown by developments in the Sydney suburbs of Bellevue Hill, Woollahra and Vaucluse.
With Sydney's population expected to reach five million within the next year and the state of New South Wales expected to grow by 100,000 a year for the next 15 years, plenty of new homes will be needed. But if developers want to meet the needs of a market that is changing in more ways than just its size, the impact of the empty nesters must be reflected in their plans.