Last-time buyers could be key to solving housing crisis, claim – Property Industry Eye

Meeting the needs of last-time buyers could prove crucial in solving Britain’s housing crisis, according to a Legal and General report.

Research carried out by the group shows there are 3.3m home owners aged 55 or over who are looking to downsize.

The report – entitled Last Time Buyers – suggests that if more purpose-built accommodation was available for older people to move into, this could free up many larger houses for younger families to move into.

The report says: “These Last Time Buyers are sitting on £820bn of property wealth and 7.7m spare bedrooms. The equivalent to 2.6 million family homes, this represents 10 years of housing supply based on Government targets – or 20 years based on the current housing completions.

“Freeing up this housing stock will provide a powerful tool for addressing the housing crisis, reducing overcrowding, boosting the UK economy and bringing benefits across the property market.

“Given the size of the numbers involved, it is surprising how little attention has been paid to older buyers, even though this group is often open to the possibility of downsizing.

“By failing to target this key demographic with good value, purpose-built housing for those aged 55+, government and industry alike may be missing an important trick. Not only will this type of housing give them a better quality of life, but it will also help to release additional funds for their retirement.”

The report also found that while almost one third of older home owners considered downsizing in the past five years, only 7% actually did. Many do not particularly want to downsize, with 58% saying they would put it off until after 70.

The report also found that while 3.3m people over the age of 55 were looking to downsize, the number of 20 to 34-year-olds still living with their parents has increased by a quarter in two decades to just over 3.3m.

According to the most recent census, there are 1m households considered too small for the number of occupants, with Shelter saying one in four London children live in overcrowded homes.

The report concludes: “Encouraging last-time buyers to move into purpose-built accommodation (without steep staircases, for example) could have a major impact on figures like these, yet there is simply not enough of this type of accommodation available.”