Study reveals lack of smaller homes for sale for downsizers

Older home owners in the UK who want to downsize to a smaller property are being hampered by a lack of smaller homes for sale, research suggests.

In particular, there is a shortage of two bedroom houses which is what typical retirees are looking for, according to a study by retirement experts Responsible Life.

In the worst affected areas, there are more than three four bedroom homes for every two bedroom homes on the market and nationwide, our bedroom homes outnumber two bedrooms in 66.7% of areas.

The research also found that there are double the number of four bedroom homes for every two bedroom house in 15.8% of locations and across all these areas there were a total of 21,518 four bedroom homes for sale compared to 17,390 two bedroom homes, a difference of 23.7%.

Cambridge is the worst location with 3.2 four bedroom homes for sale for every two bedroom home, followed by Rugby with a ratio of three to one. Next is Inverness with 2.6 four beds for every two bedroom home, then Cardiff at 2.5 and Stevenage, Huntingdon and Oxford all on 2.4.

The study points out that retirees who still live in their family home often have more bedrooms than they need and many want to downsize to free up cash and slash the cost of living. This has the added benefit of freeing up larger homes for those who need them.

However, downsizers also have to factor in the stamp duty they must pay on any new property and the cost of moving, both of which can make a move much less worthwhile.

The North of England has the most choice for downsizers, with St Helens at 2.7, and Hull and Sunderland both at 2.6, all having more two bedroom homes for sale than four bedroom properties.

This was followed by Gateshead with 2.4, Darlington with 2.3, Halifax at 2.1, Stoke on Trent at two four bedroom for every two bedroom home, Oldham at 1.9, and Stockport and Hartlepool at 1.8.

‘Retirees consider downsizing to be one of the easiest ways to release some cash in retirement but many are confronted by a crippling lack of options,’ said Steve Wilkie, managing director of Responsible Life.

‘Across the country, there are significantly fewer smaller houses for sale and they are being fought over by three groups of people; downsizers, first time buyers and those moving up the ladder,’ he pointed out.

‘This lack of supply feeds into prices and unfortunately for many it’s just not worth downsizing once the cost of moving and stamp duty are taken into account,’ he added.