Research by property purchasing specialist, HBB Solutions, has found that despite accounting for just 4% of total market stock, almost 40% of all retirement specific properties currently listed on the market have already been snapped up by silver homesellers.
Downsizing is a sensitive subject in the UK property market and with older homeowners living alone in larger homes for longer, first-time buyers, in particular, are struggling to find suitable housing stock when it comes to climbing the ladder.
There are a range of challenges when it comes to encouraging this more mature segment of the market to sell up and downsize. For a start, we’re living for longer and many older homeowners are still in fine form, well able to maintain a larger home, meaning the greater ease of managing a smaller property doesn’t carry the appeal it once did.
Then there’s the emotional attachment, which can understandably cause hesitations around selling the home they’ve watched their kids grow up in and in which they’ve made a lifetime of fond memories.
Pride also plays its part, with many older homeowners seeing downsizing as a downgrade and preferring the ability to better accommodate friends and family in a larger home when they come to visit.
Then there’s the high cost and protracted process of selling a property that can act as a deterrent, while a lack of suitable supply can also be an issue. In fact, HBB Solutions found that just 4% of homes currently listed in Britain are suitable for those looking to downsize into both managed and non-managed retirement communities.
In London, the East Midlands, Scotland and the North East, these retirement appropriate homes account for just 2% of current property for sale stock.
But downsizing does bring its benefits. Buying a smaller, more affordable home allows homeowners to benefit from the wealth they’ve accumulated within their home, while it also reduces running and maintenance costs.
It can also bring health benefits as smaller or single level homes can be better suited to their physical needs, while retirement communities can also bring a boost to mental health and provide social interaction that negates the isolation and loneliness that can often impact older, single homeowners.
Despite the hesitations many face when it comes to downsizing, the research by HBB Solutions shows that there is a strong demand for retirement suitable homes. In fact, 38% of all retirement specific properties currently listed across Britain have sold subject to contract, while this demand climbs to almost half in Yorkshire and the Humber, Scotland and the East Midlands.
Managing Director of HBB Solutions, Chris Hodgkinson, commented:
“Selling a home can be emotional at the best of times, but selling a home you’ve spent your best years in raising a family is a particularly hard ask. So it’s understandable that many mature homeowners find the thought of downsizing a difficult one to consider.
In fact, you’d be surprised as to how often we’re called in to rescue a chain in danger of collapse due to a silver homeseller having second thoughts, either with regard to the offer they’ve accepted, or about selling up entirely.
That said, the demand for retirement friendly homes is high, but as is always the case when it comes to the UK property market, there is an insufficient level of stock to meet this demand.
This is an issue we surely must address if we expect to encourage more homeowners enjoying their golden years to do so in a smaller home.”