Why clients should avoid relying on property to fund retirement

  • Consider why clients are relying on property to fund their retirement.
  • Learn what the risks are of relying on property and cash, and why clients are averse to saving into a pension.
  • Understand how advisers can help clients to avoid relying on equity in the home for retirement income.

As one respondent put it: "I have this end goal where I’d hopefully be able to get my own property, and it is really hard for people my age." 

The truth is that those who own houses have the upper hand when it comes to relying on property in retirement. With that in mind, it seems many members of ‘generation rent’ are being unrealistic in their income expectations.

Spanner in the works

Another view shared between generations is a reliance on downsizing in some form. Many millennials are depending on their parents to downsize to help them onto the housing ladder, while generation Xers frequently plan to downsize as they approach retirement and use the cash freed up to supplement income.

On the other side of the fence, boomers say they are now at the age where they are being constantly reminded of the opportunity to downsize but are often unwilling to, even if they know they should.

Taking all of that into account, it would seem that three generations are relying on the same property to fund their retirement. The reality is that at some point, that property could well be the only source of funding long-term care in retirement.

When push comes to shove, very few people are willing to give up the family home. Aside from the emotional attachment, they want their children and grandchildren to be able to stay, and see property as a future store of wealth.

The only reason they can imagine giving it up is for health reasons, by which point it may be too late to enjoy any of the financial benefits.

Property might seem like a safe bet, but this attitude in the final stages of the property journey poses a severe risk to anyone relying on downsizing, regardless of their age.

Risk/reward dynamic

This reliance on property, and indeed cash, supports our belief that risk aversion is alive and kicking, with the value of taking higher risks for higher returns poorly understood among savers. 

For most respondents, the fear of losing money outweighs the knowledge they should be taking more risk. They do not trust themselves to make decisions, and they do not believe asset managers or pension providers will deliver on their word - in fact, one in five said they had previously experienced losing money in high-risk investments.