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Brokers back calls to focus on downsizer properties


Calls for the housebuilding industry to concentrate their efforts on homes which will appeal to older homeowners looking to downsize have won favour from intermediaries.

Grosvenor Group, a private property firm, suggests that ground floor flats on new housing developments should be set aside for older people in a bid to encourage them to downsize.

In addition, planners should encourage developers to build homes designed for older residents who may need more space as a result of their care needs.

A report from the firm says: “Policies to achieve greater density often boil down to attempts by developers to build ever-smaller-sized apartments, which are unlikely to be suitable for the changing physical needs of older residents, particularly the very old.”

Gingko Independent head of mortgages James Mole says larger ground floor new-build flats are preferable to bungalows in many ways as they come with new appliances and a range of warranties, which can be a weight off the mind of older buyers.

He adds: “I think for this to work though, the developers would need to market to their target audience adequately.”

Perception Finance managing director David Sheppard agrees, arguing that a lack of appropriate properties is holding back would-be downsizers from moving.

He argues that there needs to be far greater competition in the retirement home market, saying: “The firms that are there do charge high service charges and in some cases a resale fee too which can put some people off moving to these types of properties.”

Financial incentives may be needed to boost downsizing numbers too.

Saga last year called on the government to reduce or remove stamp duty for older borrowers in order to encourage more downsizing.

It followed reports from the both the London School of Economics and Cebr which argued stamp duty was “suffocating” the housing market by holding back transactions, particularly preventing older homeowners from wanting to move on to smaller homes.

Both brokers support the idea of a change to stamp duty, with Sheppard saying: “There does need to be a review of stamp duty for these borrowers. This is immediately a disincentive for many people to move if they feel they can carry on living where they are for a while longer.”

Mole adds: “If the government helps older people downsize it helps the market overall as everybody can move up the chain and so eventually first-time homes are become available too.”


My Opinion: Downsizing is not the only option

While downsizing may be ideal for some people nearing retirement, there are other avenues they can explore In the lead-up to the Government’s recent white paper on housing, there was a lot of speculation about new initiatives to support Britain’s “last-time buyers” – older homeowners wanting to downsize into smaller, more appropriate accommodation. Much was […]

Think tank: ‘Govt should focus on helping older people downsize’

The Government should concentrate more on downsizing rather than focusing policy on younger buyers, according to an International Longevity Centre paper. The paper found that 32.6 per cent of homeowners over 55 are downsizing or interested in downsizing. ILC says in the report: “This is therefore an area worthy of greater policy focus, while the current policy debate is […]


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