One in four pensioners looking to downsize

21st August 2013

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Millions of UK pensioners expect to sell their property and raise more than £60,000 in a bid to downsize and essentially make life easier writes Philip Scott.

According to research from Prudential, almost three quarters of the UK’s 10.4m pensioners own their own home, although more than a quarter, at 26 per cent, anticipate they will be selling their property to boost their liquidity.

The vast majority, at 81 per cent of retired homeowners who expect to sell are planning to buy another property – equivalent to around one million homes being bought and sold by pensioners, many of whom will release substantial amounts of cash by downsizing.

Some 73 per cent of retirees who plan to sell up and buy another property want to move into a smaller and less expensive home. On average, they expect downsizing to raise as much as £62,000.

Nearly a quarter, at 23 per cent plan to use the money raised to boost their income in retirement and 13 per cent will pay off debts, while eight per cent say they will use the money to help with everyday living costs.

Prudential’s research also shows that 22 per cent of retired homeowners still have an outstanding mortgage, with average monthly payments of £254.

The convenience of running a smaller home was the most commonly stated motivation for those who plan to downsize – 48 per cent say they want a simpler life. Separately, 22 per cent claim raising money is the main driver for their sale, while 11 per cent want to reduce household bills.

Stan Russell, retirement expert at Prudential, says: “Housing wealth is potentially a significant source of additional retirement income for pensioners who own their own home. This is why so many of Britain’s pensioners are planning to become last-time-buyers. However, it is dangerous for people to assume that housing wealth can make up for a lack of retirement planning. To ensure a comfortable retirement it is important to start saving as much as possible as early as possible, and to seek professional financial advice on the best retirement income options.”

Staying on the property ladder remains the overwhelming preference among retired homeowners. Just six per cent of pensioners planning to sell their home intend to move into specialist retirement accommodation, while only four per cent expect to move into a rental property.

Russell adds: “For some retired homeowners, moving to a smaller home is a lifestyle choice, but for a significant number the decision is a financial one. Our research also shows the financial nous of many pensioners – the majority of retired homeowners expecting to sell their property plan to buy a smaller home rather than rent, saving themselves on average £168 per month on the difference between average mortgage and rental costs.”

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