Older people looking to downsize are struggling to find suitable housing, leaving them stuck in properties that have an overall worth of £820 billion.
With almost a third of homeowners aged 55 or over having considered a downsize, only 7% have managed to do so. This is perhaps not surprising, because at present only 2% of the current housing stock is designed with pensioners in mind.
The research by Legal and General and the Centre for Economic and Business Research, also goes on to highlight that the shortage of appropriate homes is leaving a total of 7.7 million spare bedrooms unused.
Nigel Wilson, Chief Executive of Legal and General says:
“There’s an increasing recognition, not least among the last-time buyers themselves, that there isn’t enough supply.”
Currently there are 3.3 million over 55’s looking to downsize, and the study claims that if they were all to find suitable properties, it would unlock 18% of the country’s property market.
This shift would also have the potential to fill some of the 8.1 million (35%) of the under occupied homes in the country – those with at least two spare bedrooms.
The study goes on to highlight that the majority, just under 4 million, of the under occupied homes are in urban city and town areas. This has prompted Mr Wilson to call upon the government and property groups to build suitable retirement properties and introduce tax breaks to encourage the older generation to downsize. He says:
“Expanding housing supply, productivity and diversity for older people can help ensure that everyone can enjoy independence, dignity and a high quality of life over the whole of our lives,”
Whilst the Queen’s speech and the recently elected Tory government promised the introduction of several policies aimed to encourage house-building, it is unclear whether the problem faced by the lack of suitable retirement properties is going to be solved in the near future – leaving millions of properties under occupied
12/06/15 www.propertysurveying.co.uk BT