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Comment: Older buyers’ needs are not being met

Andrea Rozario 2015

The Government has done little to help older buyers and those wanting to downsize and we must offer alternatives

The dearth of suitable and affordable homes in the UK is affecting a huge part of society, with a particular impact on the elderly and those just entering retirement.

The truth is, people searching for a property in later life are quite different from younger buyers. They need to be considered as a separate group with entirely separate needs. But this is not happening.

In his Autumn Statement, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced new spending commitments of £3.7bn to support the building of 100,000 new affordable homes. Good news on the face of it. However, little attention was paid to elderly homeowners looking to downsize.

It seems that just building any homes will do.

Time will tell whether the Government will focus any attention on the creation of more suitable homes for older homeowners. But for those who cannot wait around for these decisions to be made, equity release can be an alternative.

Thousands of retirees are realising their pensions will not stretch far enough, and many will be turning to their biggest and most reliable asset – their home – for help. For those who cannot find a suitable property to downsize to, or simply do not want to throw away their cherished memories, the lifetime mortgage may be a good option.

As the Government continues to struggle in addressing the issue, we must continue to be prepared to offer the best alternative we can. Spreading understanding about equity release and lending in retirement is the next step. We must help certain homeowners realise there is another possible route to a financially comfortable retirement.

Andrea Rozario is chief corporate officer at Bower Retirement

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