Quarter of over-55s in Scotland ‘plan to downsize their property’
Over a quarter (26 per cent) of people in Scotland aged 55 or over are considering or will consider downsizing in the future, while a further 10 per cent have already downsized, a new survey has found.
The poll from YouGov was commissioned by retirement housebuilder McCarthy & Stone to highlight downsizing as an important part of the solution to solving Scotland’s housing issues.
According to the survey, most people in Scotland (58 per cent) cite lower maintenance as reason for downsizing, followed by a third (39 per cent) who say it is due to their children leaving home. Just under a third (31 per cent) cite health reasons followed by 27 per cent who say that downsizing would help reduce the cost of bills.
McCarthy & Stone is calling on government to provide greater incentives to help older people move and provide more housing choices for later life buyers to free up housing market.
Commenting on the findings, McCarthy & Stone’s regional managing director for Scotland, Steve Wiseman, said: “There is increasing appetite in Scotland to downsize and move to a property more suitable for later life. On a daily basis, we meet people who are contemplating the move due a range of reasons, such as the unsuitability of their current homes for their needs. Too often however, they are restricted from making the move due to a lack of incentives or choice in the market, including purpose-built retirement housing.
“Our population is maturing at a rapid rate with the over-65 age group predicted to grow by over 50 per cent in the next 20 years. Despite this, the UK is suffering from a chronic undersupply of suitable retirement properties of the type that we provide. To put that in perspective, 3.5 million people in the UK are interested in buying a retirement property, yet only 128,000 have been built.”
The housebuilder said that the government’s overriding focus on the first time buyer is commendable but added that it needs to shift to a more holistic approach. By offering incentives to those wishing to downsize, providing more retirement choices to those in later life and considering planning policies that encourage this type of housing, McCarthy & Stone said the government can help create an environment that aids a larger number of later life buyers to purchase more suitable properties and, importantly, to release housing equity to fund their retirement or support their loved ones. This, it argues, would have a knock-on effect of freeing up the housing market, enabling first time buyers and small families to join or move up the property ladder, providing a win-win solution.
The call for greater action by the government follows a report commissioned by the housebuilder and written by the International Longevity Centre called Generation Stuck: Exploring the Reality of Downsizing in Later Life, which found that 29 per cent of homeowners over the age of 55 in Scotland expect to release more than £100,000 in equity after buying a new home.