A third of older homeowners want to downsize - but can't

Lack of options leaves them trapped in their home

A7TNAT An elderly man sitting in a chair at a retirement home. Image shot 2006. Exact date unknown.Keywords :  senior, man, ol

One in three of the UK's over-55 homeowners is considering downsizing, but can't find any suitable housing options.

A chronic under-supply of suitable properties for later life, including purpose-built retirement housing, means that older people in the UK are stuck in under-occupied properties that are unsuited to their needs.

Research has shown that nearly half of all people who classify as under-occupiers in the UK are aged over 55 - and at current market trends it would take 20 years for housing supply to meet the demand of just half of people aged 60+ interested in downsizing.

In a new report, Generation Stuck, retirement housebuilder McCarthy & Stone calls for more support for older people wanting to downsize.

"Housing and planning policy should not just be about Starter Homes – millions of older people want to downsize to more suitable housing but there is currently little incentive or choice for them to move. As a result, housing chains are blocked at the top of the ladder," says CEO Clive Fenton.

"Billions of pounds of housing for families and younger people could be freed up via policies that encourage a wider range of housing options and also incentives to move, such as a stamp duty exemption for those moving to a smaller property. This is an area which demands greater policy focus by government in 2016."

Unsurprisingly for a builder of retirement homes, McCarthy & Stone also wants to see retirement housing given enhanced planning status and exemption from a range of planning restraints.

Meanwhile, a linked survey for the International Longevity Centre shows that more than half of downsizers cite lower property maintenance as their motivation, with four in ten hoping for reduced bills. The same number cited children leaving home, and a fifth said they wanted to move for health reasons.

"This report has identified substantial demand among older homeowners to consider 'rightsizing', which could have a significant impact on addressing the UK's housing shortage. But it is clear that there remains an inadequate supply of the kinds of properties that would serve older households," says Brian Beach, research fellow and author of the report.

"Without suitable properties into which older people can move and downsize, the potential for increasing the trend in this area is unrealistic."

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