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Demand for retirement homes surges as over-55s look for properties “suitable for needs”

Written by: Sarah Davidson
More than half of people over the age of 55 are actively considering downsizing and plan to save £63,752 on average by doing so, research indicates.

Retirement housing specialist Audley Villages surveyed 2,000 adults and 886 people over 55 in the UK and found almost 60% plan to downsize later in life to free up some of their wealth.

Of those planning to move to a smaller home, 43% said they would use the money to support their lifestyle, 41% said they’d spend it on holidays and 39% said the money would go towards home improvements.

Around a fifth, 22%, said they would use the money to help their loved ones.

The survey also suggested that three in five over-55s want to live in a property suitable to their changing needs while half want to cut the amount of maintenance needed and just less than half want a smaller home to cut running costs.

Nick Sanderson, Audley Group chief executive, said: “The reasons people choose to downsize are vast and often varied. Having access to care, removing the burden of looking after a large family home or releasing money to spend on their own lifestyles or support loved ones are all things that we hear regularly.

“Regardless of their motivations the message from the research is clear. The single greatest incentive to support downsizing is giving people more support to find the perfect property. And to do this there has to be more choice, in more locations.”

Ageing population

The Office for National Statistics forecasts that by 2030 there will be more than 15 million people living in the UK over the age of 65. This is 2.4 million more than today.

“It’s clear that the construction of housing with care properties needs to accelerate, and do so quickly,” said Sanderson.

At the start of the year the government announced the creation of the Housing with Care taskforce with the aim of improving the number of housing options for people as they get older.

Sanderson said: “This is the first step on the journey to delivering more options to people, but we can’t afford for any feet to be dragged on the way. Change has to start now.”

Signs of surging demand

Another retirement developer Beechcroft Developments said it plans to quadruple the number of specialist retirement homes it builds over the next five years after seeing a “significant rise” in demand for retirement communities.

According to the firm, seven buyers are now registering for every home they build.

Chris Thompson, managing director of Beechcroft Developments, said post-pandemic interest in purpose-built retirement accommodation had been “exceptional”.

“Since the pandemic, an increasing number of over-55s have realised the benefits of living in a retirement community, with like-minded neighbours on hand and an estate manager to offer help and advice,” he said. “During lockdowns, that infrastructure meant that homeowners were less likely to feel lonely or isolated.”

Meanwhile, Close Brothers Property Finance said it planned to up lending to fund new retirement communities. Oliver Powlesland, business development director at Close Brothers, said: “The retirement sector is poised for significant growth and it is clear that high quality, innovative and sensitively designed homes will continue to see high buyer demand.”

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