Almost three-quarters of the 10.4 million people aged over 65 in the UK own the property in which they live – 4.3 million homes worth some £1.3 trillion. Another 2.8 million homes are owned by those aged 55-64.
Of owner occupied homes, 49% are ‘under-occupied’ (at least two bedrooms more than they need, according to the English Housing Survey).
3.6 million owner occupied homes contain one person and two million of these owners are aged over 60.
But in the UK it’s estimated that only one in ten older people downsize while many more do so in other countries. One in five pensioner households in the USA downsize, for example.
The latest figures are published as www.downsizingdirect.com is launched to encourage downsizing and provide advice and support to older people and their families to help them move to ‘the right home at the right time’.
The new website has been created by the social enterprise, United for All Ages. Its director Stephen Burke also founded the pioneering Good Care Guide site, where families can rate and review childcare and eldercare providers.
Reasons why older people are looking to downsize include:-
- their current home and garden may be too big and difficult to manage
- to reduce energy and repair bills
- to free up some money for themselves, or for their children, or grandchildren
- to move somewhere that offers care, support and company, or be nearer family.
This new website estimates that the annual cost of running and maintaining a home could be reduced by considerably as well as capital being released.
As well encouraging older people to look at downsizing, the website offers free advice. The support service can advise older people and their families on their options staying put or moving, selling and buying a property or renting, maintaining a property, de-cluttering and making the most of their assets to pay for care.
The service is provided by Eldercare Property Partners, who have long-standing experience advising and supporting older home-owners.
Stephen Burke, director of United for All Ages and founder of the web site said: “Downsizing is first and foremost the choice of individual home-owners, with multiple benefits for them and their families.
Downsizing also has multiple benefits for our society, particularly at a time of housing crisis. It can help increase the supply of family-sized homes and help younger people onto the housing ladder.
Housing policy has focused on first-time buyers but ‘last-time buyers’ deserve attention too. With our ageing population, we need more options for older people and greater awareness amongst older people about how they can downsize.
Often the idea of downsizing seems attractive but the prospect of selling and buying together with the upheaval puts some older people off. Our advice and support service can make moving or staying put a lot easier.”
United for All Ages is a social enterprise that aims to build a stronger Britain by bringing younger and older people together through shared sites, shared caring and shared interests. Launched in 2010, United works with councils, charities, universities and companies to make ‘Britain for all ages’ a reality.