Later Life  

Downsizers reveal it isn't about the money

Downsizers reveal it isn't about the money

Almost four million homeowners aged 55 plus plan to downsize, a survey has revealed.

Prudential stated nearly half of over-55 homeowners, an estimated 3.9 million, are planning to sell up, with the average amount they are expecting to raise in equity being £112,000.

However, the figures show that for many, it is not the money that is motivating them to move to a smaller property.

Nearly three quarters said that convenience was their main reason for downsizing, compared with 28 per cent who said that they were doing this to release cash for retirement.

For one in three, having a smaller garden was a major motivation.

For those who are not planning to downsize, the main reasons include worries over whether there are suitable properties available for retirement.

Thirty eight per cent of those not downsizing blamed it on a lack of suitable homes.

Meanwhile nearly a quarter blamed the cost of moving, including stamp duty, for staying put and 17 per cent were put off by high house prices.

Vince Smith-Hughes, retirement income expert at Prudential, said: “It is interesting to see that these figures challenge the common theory that ‘my house is my pension’.

"Although we see a large proportion of those taking equity from their homes to boost their retirement incomes, most people have accepted that the main reason they need to move home in later life is for convenience. 

“With the average amount of equity raised likely to be just over £100,000, and with many other demands on this cash – such as helping children, paying off debts and putting money aside to pay for care in the future – it is clear that for most people the best way to fund retirement is through saving as much into a pension as early as possible in their working lives.”

Prudential's research was conducted by Consumer Intelligence between 22 to 23 August 2017. More than 1,000 homeowners aged 50 plus were polled.

 Andy Wright, financial adviser from Wright Financial Management near Bournemouth, said this area was a popular place for downsizers and most are motivated by lifestyle not a need to release cash.

He said: “They want to get out of the rat race that is London and buy a more suitable property for them.

“Many of them have been to Dorset on their holidays and liked it. They do release cash when they move, but this isn’t the biggest motivator.”

rosie.murray-west@ft.com