A stress-free way to downsize: it’s a good deal for everyone

Nearly half of Britain’s pensioners would like to downsize, which could transform their lives and their emotional wellbeing

Young people today have difficulty getting on the housing ladder, partly because a shortage of homes means first-time buyers are being priced out of the market. So could encouraging pensioners to move into more suitable homes be the key to ending Britain’s worsening housing crisis?

At present there are 5.7 million pensioners who would like to downsize, which could free up millions of homes across Britain. Downsizing would help to unlock the UK housing chain, releasing a significant number of homes, according to McCarthy Stone’s annual Retirement Confidence Index.

More importantly, people who have downsized to a McCarthy Stone apartment have found their lives transformed, no longer worrying about the maintenance of houses they are unable to cope with and finding themselves at the heart of a vibrant social community.

And if those pensioners – 38 per cent of the population aged over 65 – were all to move then £619 billion of housing stock would become available for families and first-time buyers.

The pressure for Government to enable the provision of more accommodation for those aged 65 and over can only increase. By 2045, more than 13 million pensioners in Britain will consider moving – especially if pensioners were exempted from stamp duty.

Clive Fenton, chief executive officer at McCarthy Stone, said: "The rise in the number of downsizers is an inevitable consequence of the UK’s rapidly ageing population. By 2045, those aged 65 and over are expected to increase to more than 18.7 million, which will expose the UK’s grossly inadequate level of housing for older people if we maintain the status quo.

"We will simply lack the necessary infrastructure and support services to deal with the demographic shift we face."

People expect to release £80,000 of equity on average with a move, equating to £442 billion in total. More than £1 trillion in equity could be released across the UK in 2045 if 13 million people were to downsize. Mr Fenton added: "The ability to release equity from the value of homes in later life provides a strong economic benefit for downsizers. As the strain on the social care system rises, we will find more and more people tapping into their housing wealth to cover the costs of retirement and care."

Yet it’s the psychological benefits of living with other people, rather than feeling marooned when children have grown up and moved away, which has the biggest health-positive effect. That and embarking on a new stage in your life journey by taking up a new hobby or staying physically healthy by participating at one of the many exercise classes McCarthy Stone offers.

In short, a healthier, happier and more engaged older population. No wonder many homeowners say they wished they’d made the move sooner.

Mr Fenton says: "Despite the warning signs, the UK’s housing stock is woefully unprepared for the demographic shift to an ageing population, which has created a new ‘Generation Stuck’ dilemma. While desiring to move, as our study clearly shows, those in later life are discouraged by the lack of suitable housing.

"Encouraging moves at the top end of the housing chain will stimulate activity, release millions of under-occupied family homes on to local markets, and help younger people move up the ladder. It’s a win-win."

To find out more about current retirement properties for sale across the country, click here