‘Last Time Buyers’ needs to be prioritised

A report published today by Legal & General[i] called “Last Time Buyer” (LTB) has found there are 5.3 million under-occupied homes in the UK, with 3.3 million last time buyers looking to downsize. According to the report, the LTB market accounts for £820 billion of the housing wealth, set to reach £1.2 billion in 2020.

The report also highlighted that whilst a third of older homeowners have considered downsizing only 7% actually did so, with the majority (58%) putting it off until after they are 70 and quarter until 80 or older.

One of the major barriers preventing people from downsizing is the lack of suitable homes. The typical LTB lives in a 4-bed house, but would like to downsize to a 2-bed property but there are simply not enough of these properties available for purchase or rental, resulting in an estimated 7.7 million spare bedrooms not being utilised.

We welcome Legal and General’s report. We have campaigned for many years on this subject and believe that the shortage of purpose built retirement housing market has not been taken seriously enough by house builders and Government.

Thousands of homes in the UK are under-occupied and if supply were increased, many older homeowners could downsize and free up much needed family homes.
This issue is pressing. Less than 3% of housing in the pipeline is aimed at older people and yet, in 20 years’ time, those aged 65 or over will make up 23% of the population.

Retired people in the UK currently own a third of the nation’s housing stock. Enabling them to downsize would free up much needed family houses and give them the opportunity to release their equity, invest in their future and enjoy their retirement, living in housing that meets all their future needs.

Part of the solution is also to build homes suitable for older people to rent as not everyone wants to buy when they are older. Renting on long-term tenancies is a popular choice for some when they downsize, as they don’t want the financial burden of home ownership as they get older, yet they have the security of tenure provided by the Assured Tenancy. However, the lack of purpose built rental properties aimed at this market makes this very difficult for many to do so.

The statistics speak for themselves. Many older people are stuck in homes that are too big for them, but there is simply not enough purpose built retirement property available to buy or rent.

[i] http://www.legalandgeneralgroup.com/media-centre/press-releases/2015/grouppressrelease-lasttimebuyermarketltbsworth820billionincluding77millionsparebedroomssaysnewresearchfromlegalampgeneralandcebr.htm

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