Downsizers can save money and free up homes

18/02/14
 

Older homeowners could release on average £100,000 capital and could save £2,000 a year by reducing their energy bills and other household running costs if they downsize their home.

More downsizing would also help tackle the housing crisis by enabling ‘last-time buyers’ to release at least a million family-sized homes, according to downsizingdirect.com.  

Almost three-quarters of the 10.4 million people aged over 65 in the UK own the property they live in – 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.

Downsizingdirect.com sets out reasons why older people may wish to downsize. These include:

  • their current home and garden may be too big and difficult to manage
  • they may have trouble with stairs and getting out and about
  • they want to reduce their bills like rising energy costs and day to day expenses
  • they face large bills for repair and refurbishment of their home
  • they want to free up some money for themselves or for their children or grandchildren
  • they want to move somewhere that offers care, support and company
  • they want to free up a family-sized home for younger generations
  • they want to move closer to children and grandchildren 

The new website estimates that the annual cost of running and maintaining a home could be reduced by £2,000 a year on average – through lower bills for heating, electricity and other utilities, council tax, insurance, garden and household maintenance.

In addition capital can be released by downsizing – on average around £100,000 across the country and more in London with an average £275,000.

As well encouraging older people to look at downsizing, the downsizingdirect.com website offers free advice and practical support by email and telephone. 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 and decluttering; 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 homeowners.

The site also has the latest news about downsizing, facts and figures, and blogs.    

Stephen Burke, director of United for All Ages and founder of downsizingdirect.com, said: “Downsizing is first and foremost the choice of individual homeowners, with multiple benefits for them and their families. It can liberate older people by freeing up cash in retirement and making their home easier to manage. In some cases it can help older people pay for care and get the support and company they need. Grandparents and great-grandparents can use the cash to help their younger relatives.

“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. It’s a win-win for older and younger generations.

“That’s why we have launched downsizingdirect.com. The website aims to make older people more aware of the benefits of downsizing and provide practical advice and support to make downsizing happen. 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.” 

 

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