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Fewer over 55’s plan to downsize

More over 55s have no plans to downsize, deciding instead to stay put. Here's why.

2 minute read

Fewer over 55’s plan to downsize

The number of homeowners over 55 and looking to downsize in the near future has dropped by 200,000 in the last three years, according to research by Legal & General.

The desire of more mature homeowners to stay put rather than downsize, is said to be in response to the pandemic.

“Covid-19 has clearly changed the mindset of many older homeowners, and we can see there has been an uplift in those who want to keep hold of their homes,” said Sara McLeish, chief executive of L&G Financial Advice.

Fewer than one in four over-55 households plan to downsize in the near future.

Reasons to stay put

When asked why their plans had changed, the main reason amongst homeowners aged over 55 was that they don’t want to leave the community they live in, with the Covid-19 pandemic further emphasising the importance of having friends and family close by.

The lockdown resulted in us spending more time in our homes than ever before, which has clearly influenced many of this group’s decision not to downsize. One in four (24%) said they have enjoyed having more space during lockdown, and don’t want to give that up, while a further one in ten (13%) deciding to invest in their current home rather than move on.

Exacerbating the housing supply crunch

This study also reveals that potential downsizers now make up nearly a quarter (24%) of all households aged 55 and over. Their home moves could free up a whopping 2.9 million homes. And homes which are likely to be the larger family properties that have been in particular demand over the past 12 months.

According to Zoopla, the stock of homes currently for sale is 26% down on the average level. Demand is outstripping supply, with the average price of a house in the UK increasing by 10.4% in the past year according to our House Price Watch. A reduction in downsizers can only be fanning the flames.

Looking ahead

According to Legal and General, while some over 55 households have made their mind up not to sell, others impacted by the pandemic are keen to reassess their decision in the near future. Nearly a quarter of over 55’s who haven’t sold their home stated that they would still consider downsizing but want to see how their financial situation develops before deciding (12%) or are uncertain about the housing market currently (10%).

There are a number of options open to over 55s who may be reviewing their financial situation:

Does this ring true for you? Tell us why you’re staying put in the comments below

Leave a comment (16)* Required

  1. Ian MumfordIan Mumford

    Bungalows are significantly more expensive because they use more land for the same floor area. Most older people move house to be nearer children than for a smaller house. Ideally move to a cheaper area, which is easy if you live in London.

  2. Sally LongleySally Longley

    As much as it is a struggle to keep up my home, I could not face the stress of moving again. The peace and beauty of the countryside, the humanity of people – the means to live downstairs only, should I get too doddery and the future possibility of adapting to sub-letting to a renter or carer are also factors. I shall put a covenant on the house should I have to sell, that it goes to proven several generations of people from this area and benefit of the village, only at a reasonable price and not for cash rich Londoners or second home owners.
    Suitable homes for people who still live their life and want a garden and some peace and no hidden charges are rare.
    I came from a nightmare of a leasehold situation to the country, unscrupulous freeholders/leaseholder of other flat trying to get my flat from me for nothing, then after a legal battle of eventually getting a share of the freehold, relieved of savings, encountering the ever-increasing letting situation of the other flat with nightmare tenants. So no more flats or intensive living, after a lifetime of hard work.

  3. Tim MillerTim Miller

    There are so few, say, 3 bed houses on the market that down-sizing becomes very difficult. The market is such that unless you’ve sold up and are cash-ready, you stand little chance of getting a smaller home of the type you might be looking for.

  4. Fiona JacksonFiona Jackson

    So many – dare I even say most, people have so much stuff that they cannot, or fear to, downsize. I hope we are not staying put but it might be that we move to a similar house outside London – we still have a grown up daughter (with some health problems) at home. My husband has hoarding tendencies that I am constantly fighting – but I think it’s not unusual. People have to stop feeling that memories reside in physical objects!

  5. Elizabeth MoneyElizabeth Money

    We recently relocated back to Kent, after moving away to East Anglia 4 years ago for a bigger house, slower lifestyle. It was the pull of family during pandemic that changed our plans. Kent is far more expensive, house half the size for same price. No option but to downsize!!

  6. PaulPaul

    I am 73 and sister is 67 we live in a council property, but I’m thinking to spend my savings on a home in the centre of town how could I use the money tied up in the home.thanks

  7. PaulPaul

    I can’t see How on earth do you know so many do not want to move/ down size

  8. JasJas

    Want to downsize to a new build, but service charge horror stories connected to new builds has deterred me.

  9. Julian PrinceJulian Prince

    We’re in a flat which has a lease less than 80 years making it very difficult to sell unless we pay a whopping £65,000 to extend.
    Otherwise downsizing would be on our agenda.

  10. John HarveyJohn Harvey

    Two reasons for not downsizing-

    A you catch conveyancing stress in the process and

    B end up with a landlord micromanaging your life

    Both issues need fixing fast

  11. LynnLynn

    The reason is very simple. Developers are not investing in quality 1 or 1.5 storey homes suitable for downsizing where health facilities and public transport is nearby.

  12. Alison BrindAlison Brind

    Sadly, the stock of appropriate properties to downsize to is totally inadequate. Housing developers are missing a trick by not building bungalows on new estates. I would quite happily sell my 4 bed detached, if only I could find a decent bungalow to move into.

  13. Mrs Ann May HomerMrs Ann May Homer

    We are staying put in our house because we cannot
    find a suitable home.
    A two bed with garden. Is what we are looking for.
    But we are surrounded with retirement apartments. Which are expensive with costly servce charges,
    we are not ready for pull cords yet.

  14. Jules DawesJules Dawes

    Retirement properties have expensive maintenance fees & you are merely a captive short term leaseholder & the only properties to lose equity. Few mobility appropriate properties. Assumption that when you get older you would want to live away from city centres with poor transport links.

  15. Andrew SnowdonAndrew Snowdon

    It seems the research may not be asking the right questions and coming to skewed conclusions.
    Why dont is over 55 move?
    Well the housing supply is poor, equity release cons and overcharging are on their way down ( oh yea they were!). Plus our downsized released equity is not enough to always make the difference for next generation especially when government has started to question the triple lock and has no policy in place for elderly care. All risks that make the status quo, staying put, a better option. As usual blame government for muddled and late or poor decision making.

  16. Susan SpencerSusan Spencer

    I am not prepared to pay stamp duty yet again. In the last 20 years its cost me more than £50k when I have had to moved for work reasons. It’s scandalous.

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