'Homeowners should downsize to cash in and ease housing crisis'
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Communities
Older homeowners who downsize their property could release an average of £100,000 and save £2,000 a year by reducing their household running costs, a new website has claimed.
According to Downsizingdirect.com, more downsizing would also help tackle the housing crisis by enabling ‘last-time buyers’ to release at least a million family-sized homes.
Almost 75% of the 10.4 million people aged over 65 in the UK own the property they live in – 4.3 million homes worth some £1.3 trillion. Another 2.8 million homes are owned by those aged 55-64.
Of the country’s owner-occupied homes, 49% are ‘under-occupied’, having at least two bedrooms more than they need, according to the English Housing Survey. 3.6 million owner-occupied homes contain one person and two million of these owners are aged over 60.
But in the UK it’s estimated that only one in 10 older people downsize while many more do so in other countries - for example, one in five pensioner households in the USA downsize.
Downsizingdirect.com has launched to encourage downsizing and provide advice and support to older people and their families to help them move to ‘the right home at the right time’.
According to the new website, older people may wish to downsize because:
Their current home and garden may be too big and difficult to manage.
They may have trouble with stairs and getting out and about.
They want to reduce their bills like rising energy costs and day to day expenses.
They face large bills for repair and refurbishment of their home.
They want to free up some money for themselves or for their children or grandchildren.
They want to move somewhere that offers care, support and company.
They want to move closer to children and grandchildren.
Downsizing estimates that the annual cost of running and maintaining a home could be reduced by an average of £2,000 a year – through lower heating, electricity and other utility bills, council tax, insurance, garden and household maintenance.
And while the average amount of capital that can be released by downsizing across the country is estimated to be £100,000, in London the average is thought to be £275,000.
Stephen Burke, Downsizingdirect.com founder, said: “Downsizing is first and foremost the choice of individual homeowners, with multiple benefits for them and their families. It can liberate older people by freeing up cash in retirement and making their home easier to manage. In some cases it can help older people pay for care and get the support and company they need. Grandparents and great-grandparents can use the cash to help their younger relatives.
“Downsizing also has multiple benefits for our society, particularly at a time of housing crisis. It can help increase the supply of family-sized homes and help younger people onto the housing ladder. Housing policy has focused on first-time buyers but ‘last-time buyers’ deserve attention too. With our ageing population, we need more options for older people and greater awareness amongst older people about how they can downsize. It’s a win-win for older and younger generations.
“That’s why we have launched downsizingdirect.com. The website aims to make older people more aware of the benefits of downsizing and provide practical advice and support to make downsizing happen. Often the idea of downsizing seems attractive but the prospect of selling and buying together with the upheaval puts some older people off. Our advice and support service can make moving or staying put a lot easier.”