The UK housing market, as so many reports continually show, is not in a good place right now. This stems from there not being enough homes to accommodate the growing population. This single development – a lack of residential properties in the UK – affects all types of people across the country.
The lack of homes has meant the price of property has gone up and up and up in recent years and even despite the credit crunch. It has seen first-time buyers struggling to purchase a home that is in a place convenient for work. Growing families are also struggling to move into larger homes – either because they are too expensive from a purchase or rental perspective – or because there aren’t enough larger family homes being built in suitable areas.
Another group of people who are struggling to have their housing needs met are the over 55s who want to downsize. At first this may not sound like much of a problem to have. Too much space, how is that a problem?
But, when you think about it a bit more carefully you’ll discover that it can be a real issue. If you’re an aging couple living in a four bedroom home you have higher bills, a larger space to clean and maintain, two or even three floors that at some point could begin to be a struggle to climb. These are all significant things that impact quality of life.
While there was a boom in flats being built in the early noughties, they weren’t the right type of flats for people heading towards retirement age. A report published by the Council of Mortgage Lenders and undertaken by the International Longevity Centre shows that a third of over 55s in the UK are considering, or expect to consider downsizing their home – not including those who have already done so.
The report goes on to highlight that even if half of those considering downsizing did so, it would be another 20 years before there was enough appropriate property for them to make the move. Put another way, a third of existing residential properties that could be available for sale or rent for growing, younger families is not available because of the lack of properties for older residents.
With so much about the UK, London in particular’s, housing crisis, this is another issue to add to the growing list. However, it is a significant one. If more apartments and homes suitable for older, retired and elderly people were built, then that would free up a significant portion of larger family homes that are desperately needed.
With the Redfern review currently underway, there must be some hope that downsizing options will feature among the multitude of property topics that must be covered. If it is, then the likelihood of an all-encompassing manageable solution is surely more likely.