Thu 03 May 2018 View all news articles

Better housing options for ‘last time buyers’ could ‘unlock’ the market

Last time buyers could hold the key to unlocking the housing market but only if more provision was made for later living.

That’s the verdict of Legal & General which has just undertaken a study into this section of the market, which it revealed owns £938 billion of UK housing stock and accounts for 26% of all households over the age of 55.

It said there were now more than 3.1 million so-called ‘last time buyer’ households and the number of homeowners who had considered downsizing had increased from 32% to 39% in the last three years.

Yet, a lack of suitable properties meant that 49% of those who had considered moving to a smaller property did not follow through with their plans.

Meanwhile, a further 29% who said they found the right property decided not to move because the home was too expensive.

Legal & General said there was a ‘chronic undersupply’ of age-specific properties. It raised concerns that, with only 7,000 homes delivered to this sector last year, it was the most undersupplied area of the housing market.

Phil Bayliss, head of later living at Legal & General, said: “Last time buyers account for more than a quarter of the total number of households aged over 55.

“This report highlights the crucial role they could play in unlocking the wider UK housing market, further demonstrating the need for Government to recognise this sector through key policy changes.”

Bayliss believed that if ‘rightsizers’ were able to move to property more aligned to their desired lifestyle and needs many more homes would be freed up for growing families and second steppers.

And, there would be huge health benefits to ‘age appropriate’ housing such as reduction in GP visits and NHS spend, he said.

Increasing the number of properties available to these buyers, he explained, would be the most efficient way to help solve the UK’s housing crisis and spiralling NHS costs linked to the ageing population.

According to the report, which Legal & General have produced with economics consultancy CEBR, 45% of last time buyers have lived in their home for 30 years or more and many still lived in the first property they ever bought.

It also found 45% lived in a detached house, 72% of these households were not in full time work and their average weekly income was £632.

Bayliss added: “A larger section of our housing stock – worth nearly £1 trillion – is under-occupied and owned by people over the age of 55.

“It is vital that the over 55s are able to make and act on the choices that are right for them.”

Source: What Mortgage

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