Older homeowners being put off downsizing
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Communities
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A growing number of older homeowners want to downsize their home but many are being put off by the lack of housing options for older people and the difficulties of moving, new research has revealed.
As house prices rise, downsizingdirect.com says that nearly three-quarters of its enquirers aged 55-79 want help selling their home and buying/moving to a smaller property.
But 24% say they are put off by the lack of housing options; 19% by the hassle and cost of moving; 14% by having to de-clutter their possessions; and 14% by family reasons such as staying close to children and grandchildren.
In the UK it’s estimated that only one in ten older people downsize, while one in five pensioner households in the USA do so.
Recent figures published by Prudential showed that 38% of homeowners aged 55 and over in the UK are planning to downsize – 2.3 million homeowners.
Of the reasons given for wanting to downsize, 43% want to move to a smaller property; 38% give family reasons (such as death of a partner, moving closer to family); 33% say they have care, health or mobility needs; 24% want to reduce their running costs/maintenance bills because their property is too big; 19% want to release capital; and 10% are planning in advance of retirement.
With rising house prices, downsizing.com estimates that older homeowners could release on average £100,000 capital and could save £2,000 a year by reducing their energy bills and other household running costs if they downsize their home.
And the firm believes that more downsizing among older people could help the UK's housing crisis.
Just under half of all owner-occupied homes are 'under-occupied' (at least two bedrooms more than needed) according to the recently published English Housing Survey.
Just over 7 million of the UK's 14.3 million homeowners own their home outright, 85% of which are aged 55 plus.
Stephen Burke, director of United for All Ages and founder of downsizingdirect.com, said: “More and more older homeowners are thinking about downsizing, particularly while housing prices are rising. But clearly there are barriers preventing many older people from pursuing downsizing.
"Government needs to encourage better alternatives to be developed for older homeowners, as can be seen elsewhere in Europe. Good advice and support for older people moving are also critical.
“Downsizing has multiple benefits for older homeowners 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."