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Lack of suitable properties leaves older homeowners stuck

Written by: Christina Hoghton
More than 500,000 homeowners aged 55+ want to move but can't find suitable housing

One in five (19%) homeowners aged 55 or over have considered moving in the past two years but have not done so; equating to more than two million homeowners, according to research by YouGov for HomeOwners Alliance and BLP Insurance.

And almost a quarter of them (23%) said the reason they didn’t buy a new home was that there was a lack of suitable housing for them to move in to. This equates to more than 500,000 homeowners.

Other older homeowners cited the stress and upheaval of moving as well as not wanting to be away from friends, neighbours and community as obstacles.

According to the survey, only 6% of homeowners aged fifty-five or older say they have moved in the two past years.

But with the UK housing shortage remaining a pressing concern, so-called last-time buyers could help ease the housing crisis in the UK. If older homeowners living in homes that are under-occupied moved to smaller properties it would free up more housing stock. They just can’t find the right properties.

What do they want?

When thinking about a future move, top priorities are similar regardless of age. Good build quality (71%), spaciousness of rooms (72%) and parking (69%) top the list. However, compared with UK homeowners generally, a greater proportion of homeowners age 55 or older identify availability of parking (77% vs 69%), low running costs (70% vs 59%), proximity to shops (66% vs 55%), good transport links (56% vs 47%) and living on one level (36% vs 24%) as important criteria in their next new home.

Older homeowners see new builds as being particularly strong on low running costs (52%) but less likely to deliver on spaciousness of rooms (23%), the amount of available green space (23%) and providing living on one level (12%). Being near to amenities and good transport links are also aspects that are seen as less typical of new build homes.

Paula Higgins, chief executive officer of HomeOwners Alliance, said: “House builders can’t be allowed to sit on their hands and land bank. The government needs to keep them building and building houses that meet the needs of last time buyers as well as first time buyers.”

Kim Vernau, chief executive officer, BLP Insurance, said: “The issues highlighted by this survey that face last time buyers are as acute as those issues encountered by first time buyers. If we wish to provide the required quality of housing that addresses these concerns we desperately need an appropriate mix of well-designed homes alongside adequate local infrastructure to help address the current housing shortage.”

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