Business

Smart homes, shared homes and homes for the young at heart

BY DENNISE WILLIAMS
Contributor

Friday, February 02, 2018

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Global and local lifestyle trends are having a direct impact on how developers have to build new properties. Those trends include the fact that there are more than 44 million users of short-term rental site Airbnb.com, and that more than 13 per cent of Jamaica's population is over 55 while more than 37 per cent of the working population is under 35.

The sharing economy, the Silver Tsunami and millennial buyers are all forcing developers to up their game.

We spoke to Janelle Brown of West Indies Home Contractors to discover how real estate is changing in Jamaica.

Airbnb has definitely hit the Jamaican real estate market by storm. And it's no secret that our policymakers have recognised this by signing a memorandum of understanding in December of 2016 to further boost tourism,” Brown explained.

“As a matter of fact, following on that signing, the Caribbean Tourism Organisation also executed an MOU in February of 2017. Both actions are undeniable indicators that this trend has got stronger, with little sign of waning in the near future.”

According to Capterra.com, the growth in Airbnb is expected to reach 86.5 million by 2021.

But, while many people are gearing up for the short-term rental market, Brown cautions people to check with their apartment management team to see if such a business is allowed in their complexes.

“What I need homebuyers to be mindful of, however; is that there are implications to investors of residential complexes, for example, a community which is governed by by-laws (such as a Strata). These communities may decide to hinder such activities; therefore, one will need to check their by-laws before they engage in such a venture.”

According to Indexmundi.com, the estimated population of Jamaicans over 55, broken down as in the age range of 55-64 years being 5.85 per cent of the population, with a further break down of 84,271 males and 90,612 females.

And for the age group of 65 years and over, that is estimated to be 8.02 per cent of the population with 107,310 males and 132,503 females.

Brown notes, “The Silver Tsunami is another trend that is on the increase in developed countries.” He said that it was recently published that the World Health Organization (WHO) has new age classifications:

0 – 17 underage

18 – 65 youth or young people

66 – 79 middle-aged

80 – 99 elderly or senior and

100+ long-lived elderly.

So, in fact, according to the WHO and Brown, elderly doesn't really start until 80. And this does have an impact on how real estate is being designed. Brown encourages buyers to consider developments that have jogging trails and gyms in-house that allow people to take care of their health so that they can continue to enjoy a higher standard of living.

Another trend is the smart home. Brown noted that her company partnered with Jamaica Public Service to showcase smart homes in the Meadows development in Montego Bay in 2016.

Brown explained, “The home included security features that allow access to cameras via your computer or smartphone and carries out functions such as turning on lights, sprinklers and detecting leaks remotely. The smoke detector is also able to send an alarm to your cellphone and your audio-visual system can be set to provide music; window blinds can be set to open and close at specific times and appliances such as a/c units and televisions can be set to turn on and off. The unit was also equipped with a car-charging station for electric vehicles.”

Now the question of affordability comes into all of these trends. With Airbnb, one can utilitise the online service even if you are a renter, so that makes it a level playing field. However, for homebuyers the push to either reduce spending, get a second job to increase savings or working with a financial advisor on other ways to increase funding to purchase is critical to benefiting from these trends.

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