Downsizing not on the agenda for most over-55s


The prospects of a generation of older homeowners moving to smaller houses once their families have flown the family nest are receding, according to a new survey.

SunLife have found that the majority of over-55s won’t downsize, and that an even greater proportion never redecorate their children’s former bedrooms after they’ve moved out.

Staying put

The financial services firm say that 62% have no intention of leaving to go to a smaller property, and that 75% will leave their kids’ rooms untouched – presumably getting them to tidy their rooms one last time when they go.

Nearly half – 46% – wait at least a year, but some are at the opposite end of the spectrum with one in 50 getting to work on a vacated room within 24 hours!

But the headline-grabber from SunLife’s research is that 62% of the over-55s surveyed won’t downsize, despite the attractions of the potential for freeing up substantial funds in the process.

“Most of our respondents have been in their homes for at least two decades, and it is understandable that they want to stay there, because there’s no place like home,” says Simon Stanney, SunLife’s equity release service director.

“On average, people over 55 have seen their homes increase in value by around £135,000, so for people over 55 who own their own home and are looking for a cash lump sum but don’t want to leave the family home, unlocking some of the value in their homes via equity release rather than by moving, could offer a solution.”

Equity release – which can involve the release of a lump sum, several smaller amounts or a combination of both using the value of an existing property – has historically been used as a means of freeing up money for retirement. It is only available to over-55s who have a certain amount of equity in their homes, and many have been able to benefit from the drawdown after seeing strong capital appreciation in their homes over the years.

Dipping into the market via equity release

Research by Retirement Advantage in 2018 revealed that a growing number of over-55s were using equity release on property – but to buy another house rather than leave their current one.

More recently, Savills have shown that 43% of the UK’s property is owned by people aged over 65. With so many people keen to retain their homes of many years – and even buy others – there are implications for a property market that needs more properties to meet demand from all ages.

Top five uses for kids’ old room

  1. Guest room
  2. Junk room/storage
  3. Grandchildren
  4. Study
  5. Hobby/art room

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Downsizing not on the agenda for most over-55s


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