Most people in Britain aged over 60 have not thought about downsizing

Two thirds of people in Britain aged over 60 have never considered downsizing their property with owners from the West Midlands and London the most reluctant to do so, according to new research.

Overall 66% have not thought about selling up and moving to a smaller home which rises to 82% in the West Midlands and 71% in London, the data from the survey by BLP Insurance, a specialist residential warranty and commercial latent defects insurer, shows.

The most likely home owners to want to downsize come from Yorkshire and Humberside where 45% were open to the idea and the North East of England with 44%, the poll also found.

The main drawbacks identified by those surveyed to downsizing were the upheaval or stress of moving, cited by 45%, while 35% did not want to reduce their living space, 30% were concerned about a loss of familiarity, such as reliable neighbours, and 28% were worried about the sentimental impact of leaving the family home.

The top two motivating factors for downsizing among people aged 60 or over were related to property size. Some 43% want to avoid the burden of maintaining a larger house and garden and 32% said that their current property is too large for their needs.

Other factors included a reduction of day to day living expenses, cited by 29%. The death of a spouse or partner was surprisingly only a reason to move to a smaller property for less than a fifth of people at 19%.

The survey also revealed perceptions of those aged 60 or more to moving to purposely built retirement villages. Nearly half of those surveyed, some 46%, were worried about the cost, while 44% expressed reservations about hidden fees and 25% regarded complex contracts as a major issue against doing so.

‘It is of critical importance that we incentivise older people living in large, former family homes to downsize. We are in the midst of a much publicised housing crisis and must seek solutions to free up properties to meet people’s needs,’ said Phil Harris, director at BLP Insurance.

‘Constructing an adequate stock of purposely built homes for last time buyers is the first step. This will free up housing stock for first and second time buyers, provide extra financial reassurance to those downsizing, while injecting much needed impetus into the whole market,’ he pointed out.

‘Moving home, especially in elder years, can be an arduous and emotional experience. It is clear that the housing industry needs to do more to make the process of downsizing as seamless, stress-free and transparent as possible,’ he added.