Silver surfers hit real estate

Graham Norwood finds more and more OAPs are using the net to find property

It is Silver Surfer Week. The initiative - sponsored by Age Concern, BT, AOL, Microsoft and other internet companies - aims to raise awareness and use of the world wide web by older people in the UK. But it has an unusual level of importance to the property world because of the influence of the internet on house hunting.

The older population appears to scarcely need encouragement to use the web. Recent research by Nielsen Netratings, an internet survey firm, showed that users over 50 years old represented 24 per cent of the UK's internet-surfing community, the same proportion as for under-20 year olds.

Whereas children and teenagers were found to use the web for social networking and playing games, and 20 to 49 years olds used it mainly for shopping and working out financial matters, the 50-plus community used it for obtaining information.

This is especially critical for buying property. Research by Propertyfinder, a sales website, suggests that more than 80 per cent of potential home buyers now start their searches on the internet.

Specialist retirement developers have responded to these trends by producing, arguably, far more informative websites than those of mainstream house builders or estate agents.

For example, the upmarket retirement home company English Courtyard ( earlier this year won the Best Website award from the property journal New Homes.

EC's website is fast to access, has clear maps showing where developments are located, and has a high level of information about designs and local areas.

Other distinctive elements include a confidence-boosting "before and after" feature that shows architects' drawings of a new scheme and then images of the finished product. They are very similar.

There is also a "site in progress" feature showing up-to-date images of schemes being built, allowing buyers to make checks on the progress of their properties.

The New Homes judges heaped praise on English Courtyard in a competition where it beat rival entries from mainstream house builders and retirement niche companies.

McCarthy & Stone, Britain's largest retirement property builder, has an unusual "special offers" section of its website,

It lists the show-homes and the last remaining properties for sale on schemes around the UK - these homes are often reduced in price to secure a quick sale that will make the development complete.

The website for Retirement Homesearch (, owned by the Peverel retirement company, offers "virtual tours", sets of 360-degree pictures panning across different rooms inside what it calls a typical retirement property.

New developments can be searched by developer or by county if older surfers are looking at availability of retirement schemes. The site's Hot Property section lists second-hand retirement flats and houses.

Pegasus Homes, one of the larger retirement sector builders, includes a section on that lists schemes at an early stage of planning permission but not yet being built.

Although the site reveals few details of each scheme, apart from its location, it allows you to register for information as the development progresses so allowing you to buy at an early stage if that suits you.

Scores of other websites offer other facilities for older buyers.

More details for Silver Surfer Week can be found on

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
peopleMathematician John Nash inspired the film Beautiful Mind
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
Life and Style
fashionFrom bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine