Retirement warning as over 60s missing out on potential £150k windfall – are you?
Savings expert Martin Lewis explains equity release schemes
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One in four people aged 60 or above consider their home too big for their requirements, but only a dearth have considered downsizing to free up cash, a survey commissioned by Churchill Retirement Living has discovered.
The survey showed that 25 percent of over-60s say their house is too big but only 14 percent have considered downsizing as an option.
Downsizing can have wider social benefits as it is estimated that every downsize move frees up two or three more houses down the property chain.
This is important considering many first-time buyers and families struggle greatly to buy an appropriate home.
One in ten people surveyed said they thought they could raise between a quarter and half a million pounds by downsizing.
But on average, people believe they can expect a £150,000 windfall by downsizing.
But beyond the potential financial benefits, many older people admitted to being in homes too large to suit their daily needs.
This may lead to the home being difficult for older people to maintain as they become less able to manoeuvre through many rooms and stairs.
Of those who live alone, more than a third (36 percent) reported having at least two spare bedrooms.
Two-thirds of couples have at least one spare bedroom and additionally, three in 10 say they have a room they use solely for storage.
Property expert, Nicki Chapman, said: “Moving home to downsize needn’t be a daunting prospect, and with the potential to make such a significant windfall I’m surprised more people aren’t doing it already.
“I’m aware of people staying in their family homes long after their children have flown the nest, sometimes living in properties which may be far too large for their day-to-day needs.”
When it comes to spending the windfall generated by downsizing, 41 percent say it would be inherited by family members and 28 percent of people say they would top-up their pension.
But there are understandable obstacles to downsizing for many. Nearly half of people say they love their current home too much to move elsewhere and about a third aren’t sure they would find anywhere else they like as much.
There are practical and sentimental reasons which might prevent people downsizing.
Retirement communities, which have become a popular solution for older people in recent years, provide a solution.
Nicki Chapman said this is because they are lower maintenance, well-located and offer people a sociable environment.
Nearly half said a smaller property would be easier to manage that it would cost less to run.
She added: “They also have a crucial role to play in unlocking the housing market for families and first-time buyers. I would urge anyone with a home they think is too big to get a valuation and look at what is out there – I’m sure you’ll be surprised at what you find”.
Worryingly, 14 percent of those surveyed say their biggest concern about their current living arrangement is loneliness.
That amounts to more than two million over-60s.
But this is another issue which could be addressed by moving into a retirement community, where most of what people need will be accessible to them and they will be able to get to know lots of people.
Spencer McCarthy, CEO and chairman of Churchill Retirement Living, said: “These latest findings are a clear signal that not only are there better options for quality of life out there, but huge opportunities for people to spend more time on the things they enjoy like family, holidays, or helping others”.
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