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The New Dynamics of the ‘last time’ Property Market

The rise of the silver renters

A survey carried out by the HomeOwners Alliance1 shows that around half-a-million people aged over 55 would like to move to a smaller property with lower running costs. Housing experts point to this as an effective way to help address the UK’s housing crisis, as it increases the supply of much-needed family-sized homes available in the market.

Not that long ago, buying a bungalow was a popular retirement choice. However, single storey properties account for less than 1% of new-build homes, and the high level of demand created by an ageing population means that, in some areas of the country, bungalows change hands at prices equivalent to two-storey properties.

Increasingly, there are other options on offer. New developments of retirement flats and apartments are springing up in all parts of the country. On the plus side, these come with a lot of advantages for older people. They provide a ready-made community and often have amenities such as their own restaurant, and can offer domestic help and the services of an on-site warden.

However, these properties come with their own set of rules. These can include a range of hefty additional charges and exit fees on resale. Although retirement flats often provide a safe and secure environment for older people, they  can be notoriously difficult to sell, meaning that if the owner needs to go into residential care, they can’t rely on a quick sale to generate the cash needed to pay their fees.

 The rise of the silver renters

There are currently 4.5 million privately-rented properties in the UK2, and this figure is widely predicted to grow rapidly over the next few years. Many people in their 60s and 70s are now renting rather than owning. By doing so, they can access capital, supplement their pensions, or pass on money to their families. These new recruits to ‘generation rent’ are opting for properties both in the mainstream market and in the rapidly-growing number of specialist retirement developments.

Some want to enjoy a fresh start in a new location, and renting gives them the freedom they are looking for. Assured tenancies are now widely available, making it a more secure choice for older people, meaning they don’t have to move again unless they want to. According to letting network, Countrywide, one in every 12 private rental sector tenants is a pensioner.

1 HomeOwners Alliance, 2016; 2 English Housing Survey, 2017