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Senior housing in Scotland: a development and investment opportunity?

Andrew Fyfe (Sovereign Property Partnership, Edinburgh, UK)
Norman Hutchison (Centre for Real Estate Research, Business School, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK)

Journal of Property Investment & Finance

ISSN: 1463-578X

Article publication date: 21 December 2020

Issue publication date: 1 September 2021




This article aims to understand the housing needs of older people and to ascertain the level of demand and supply of age-related housing in Scotland. It also explores interest in different types of retirement accommodation and tenure options.


A review of existing literature is undertaken on senior housing preferences and residential satisfaction. Primary data is collected from an online survey of people over 55 in Scotland to ascertain demand side requirements with secondary data on current supply obtained from the Elderly Accommodation Counsel and data on future pipeline collated from market reports.


The results from the survey confirm earlier research that seniors when looking for accommodation in their retirement years particularly focus on the local area, access to shops, social relations with neighbours and the design of the home interior. Current analysis of the level of supply at a county level reveals that there is significant undersupply with some particularly striking regional differences. Along with a desire for owner occupation there is interest, particularly among the 75 plus age group, to lease their accommodation, perhaps a consequence of volatile property markets, insufficient pension provision or a desire to pass wealth to their family prior to death. This shortfall in supply highlights development opportunities and raises the possibility of introducing a build-to-rent senior housing offering, which may be of interest to institutional investors.

Practical implications

The Scottish Government is currently reviewing its strategy for Scotland's older people. The results are of practical benefit as they expose the gaps in supply of age-related stock at county level. This may require the government to introduce policy measures to encourage a mix of housing types suited for the ageing demographics of the population. This research highlights opportunities for developers and investors to fill that gap and explains why advancements in technology should be incorporated in the design process.


This paper brings together supply side data of senior housing in Scotland and provides insights into the housing preferences of seniors. It will be of direct value and interest to developers and institutional investors.



The authors express their thanks to the Elderly Accommodation Counsel for their assistance throughout this project and to Caroline Laurenson for her help on technology advancements.


Fyfe, A. and Hutchison, N. (2021), "Senior housing in Scotland: a development and investment opportunity?", Journal of Property Investment & Finance, Vol. 39 No. 6, pp. 525-544.



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