Spring is usually a time for renewal and optimism. Spring this year will hopefully be like no other Spring we have experienced.
After more than 12 months of restrictions to blunt the effects of Covid, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. This is a global pandemic and until we have almost eradicated the virus across the world, we will from time-to-time experience inconveniences, but hopefully they will not be as dramatic as those we have experienced in the last year.
Let us hope we can all enjoy the longer days, the Spring sunshine, and the vegetation shoots evolving into Summer blooms.
When people become optimistic, they spend more. They become adventurous. Why is Easter such a good time for DIY stores? Many projects that have gestated in the back of minds, with a spurt of optimism, suddenly reach that ‘let’s get on with it’ stage. As so many have spent more time than usual in their homes, they have been able to identify what improvements they wish to make.
When we buy a house, it is not a home designed by us for us. Even a new-build has not been designed by the individual that is buying it. There are always improvements that can be made so that it more suited to the lifestyle of the home’s occupants.
I can see a boom in home improvements coming. Limitations of existing kitchens and bathrooms will have been exposed. Lack of office, exercise and study space will have become apparent. A conservatory that is too cold to heat in winter is basically a waste of space. Turning it into a well-insulated, heated extension could be a priority.
How many habits acquired during the lockdown period will remain a part of everyday life in the post virus world? If the post-virus world means more time will be spent at home, some of these issues will have to be addressed.
Many of those who have worked from home do not seem too keen on going back to the office full-time. Those that are, cite lack of space, i.e., two parents home working with two children home schooling, with no spare room as the drawback.
Also, will the Saturday night takeaway with a good movie take off? Some of my friends have already suggested this as an alternative to going to a restaurant together once we can mix socially in-doors again. Will home cinemas be the next ‘must have’?
From my circle of friends and relatives, I see home improvements as being the economic boom that lifts the economy out of its pandemic doldrums.
This will have two impacts on the later life market. ‘Love or List it’ does not only apply to the subjects of that particular television programme. Many, when they reach retirement, go through those mental gymnastics. Do they want to or need to modify their existing home to suit their retired lifestyle and/or needs, or do they move to a new home that more closely suits those needs?
There will also be the extended herd instinct. If you see what friends and neighbours are doing to their homes, do you begin to consider what you can do to your own?
These decisions will not be restricted to the retired. Several major employers have already made announcements that they will be encouraging remote working. I know of one local company that has expanded during the pandemic and let their employees know they will not be acquiring additional office space. They expect their existing office space to be ‘shared’ amongst their increased number of employees.
Retirees could find their offspring approaching them for finance. ‘We are currently stretched with the mortgage, as one of us lost our job.’ ‘My job required home working during lockdown, and I could save commuting costs if I worked from home a couple of days a week.’ ‘My partner is finding that many of the jobs they are applying for encourage flexible working.’ ‘Could you help with a garage conversion, a loft conversion or an extension?’ ‘Once we are back on our feet, we will pay you back.’
The later life lending market could be about to receive a sudden boost from the need to adapt our homes to the post-pandemic world. Spring is definitely upon us.
Bob Champion is chairman of the Air Later Life Academy