‘Later Living Logjam’ in Housing Market

A survey has suggested that part of the reason for a shortage of housing is a ‘later living logjam’ – older homeowners uninclined to downsize and make their properties available to families. The survey, by later living home provider Pegasus, suggests that only 14 percent of over-55s are considering leaving their large properties for a smaller one on their later years.

The survey, of over 2,000 people over 55 in a range of socio-economic classes throughout England, also found:

• One in two (50%) are planning on staying in their current home post-retirement, a figure which rises to 68% of those aged 71-75

• The three biggest barriers to downsizing are revealed as the hassle of moving (37%), cost of stamp duty (35%), and a lack of suitable housing (26%)

• Half of the respondents own their property outright, a figure which increases to 82% for those aged 76 and older

• Multiple tenure options are on the rise: 44% of those currently renting said they would consider renting in their retirement – the most likely group to say this

Steve Bangs, CEO of Pegasus says, “The downsizing dilemma is significant for the industry for two reasons – not only does it underline the lack of supply and need to build more homes fit for all, but it also underscores a huge concern with the overall health of the housing market.

“If older homeowners remaining in larger family homes feel they can’t move, upsizing families will also find themselves at a loss. This will in turn have a ripple effect right across the board, slowing down transactions and hindering housing prospects for first-time buyers.”


According to the Centre for Ageing Better, in ten years, the number of people in England aged 65 and over will have increased to 22 percent of the population, or around 13 million people. Pegasus suggests that fast-tracking local planning will help plug the gap in demand. A recent study by Housing Today found that more than a third of local authorities are still making no provision or plan whatsoever for new housing for older people in their local plans.

Steve Bangs comments: “England’s rigid planning system fails to provide a framework that enables and encourages the delivery of homes in the later living sector. This puts the UK decades behind countries like the US, with our nation’s perception of later living and the reality of age-specific housing completely mismatched.

“The lack of supply of quality mid-sized and smaller homes combined with the lack of awareness of a step that exists before moving into a dedicated care-led facility keeps the sectors potential capped for consumers.”

Alongside supply, Pegasus’ results highlighted the not-insignificant impact taxation is having on older movers.

“Stamp duty is directly discouraging people from moving, especially in the over-55s, where house prices have rendered many equity rich but cash poor,” Steve explains.

“The over 55s now account for 75% of all housing equity in the UK, and many of these homes are under-occupied. A stamp-duty incentive for last-time buyers will go some way in encouraging many to downsize and encourage fluidity across the market.”


The survey also highlights the need for a mix of tenure options to serve the nations changing housing needs. Pegasus’ survey found that one in five over-55’s said they would consider renting in their retirement, rising to just over a quarter for those no-yet-retired (29 percent). This proportion rises again to 44 percent for those currently renting – the most likely group to say this.

Steve Bangs continues, “It sounds simple, but there is no one-size-fits-all approach to housing in this major life transition. This is why a strong tenure mix, including later-living communities, must take priority in the UK’s race to build enough homes.”

“Ultimately, we need a more robust national conversation to raise awareness of the need for a range of later-living options between aging in place and dedicated care facilities, whilst a focus on benefits and opportunities would better support retirees weighing the downsizing decision.”

“The ideal is for retirees to make empowered choices aligned with their needs and aspirations,” concluded Bangs. “Through education and community collaboration, we can shift conversations to realise more fulfilling visions for later-life.”

See also: Property Law and You – All You Need to Know


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