Last-time buyers struggle to find the homes they want

Michael Lloyd

June 22, 2018

Last-time buyers are struggling to find houses to move to, as the potential financial gains from downsizing are not high enough and they cannot find suitable homes in their local area, Key Retirement has found.

Nearly one in three (30%) of over-65s homeowners – the equivalent of 1.45 million owners – are considering downsizing in the next five years to a more suitable home for retirement.

But across the country more than 620,000 over-65s homeowners said they have looked into downsizing but cannot find a suitable home in their area, while another 500,000 said they’ve considered moving but would not be much better off financially.

Dean Mirfin, chief product officer at Key Retirement, said: “Downsizing should make financial sense for older homeowners as it releases money to pay for retirement and it also should make sense for the property market as a whole as it frees up bigger houses.

“But despite the numbers of older homeowners wanting to downsize it is clear they face problems in finding suitable homes for retirement and for many the finances just don’t add up. Unfortunately, that leaves them struggling to maintain homes, and in many cases, struggling financially.

“Pensioners are sitting on property wealth of more than £1 trillion which could significantly improve their standard of living in retirement and helping them make the best use of that money would boost their finances and the economy as a whole.”

The numbers looking to move home in retirement rose as high as 58% in the North East and 44% in the South West, underlining how many want to swap their family homes for more manageable houses.

However not being able to move in retirement is a major concern as more than half (53%) of over-65s reported keeping up with DIY jobs around the house is physically tough. And 27% reported they struggle to afford maintenance on their homes.

Just over two out of five (42%) over-65s homeowners have worries about bills and the need for repairs on their home and nearly one in five (17%) thought their house is just too big for their needs.

Around 11% of over-65s homeowners said they have already downsized, with pensioners in the North West and South East (both 13%) being the most likely to have already made the move to a more suitable house.

Nick Sanderson, chief executive of retirement housing provider, Audley Group, said that the supply of downsizing options is not keeping up with the demand.

He said: “The supply of downsizing options is simply not keeping up with demand. Instead of providing incentives and high quality housing for older generations, the housing market continues to be flooded with initiatives for first time buyers.

“That’s not to say it should be a case of ‘either, or’, but the other factor at play here is the growing population of over 65s.

“There are currently 9.9 million people over the age of 65 in England, a number that is forecast to rise by 20% over the next decade. However, only 2% of the UK housing stock is designated as retirement housing.

“The growth potential for the retirement village sector is huge, and enabling older people to move into appropriate housing will free up homes for others, creating much-needed movement in the property market.”

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