A recent research report from the NHBC Foundation suggests that the over 55s are almost as likely to upsize than to downsize when moving to a new home.
The report found that 40% of the over-55s surveyed had chosen a four bedroomed house, despite an average occupancy of just two people. Supporting this finding, the report also determined that 46% of them had invested extra money in their latest move.
The research sampled 1,477 homeowners aged between 55 and 74 who moved to their current new-build home between 2010 and 2016.
During that period of time 39% downsized to a home with fewer bedrooms, 33% moved to a home with the same number of bedrooms and 28% upsized to a property with additional bedrooms.
The results are interesting to note given that they challenge our preconceptions that older home owners generally downsize. However, the sample size is quite small and the main survey was web-based, which may have slightly biased the results.
The over 55s account for about 330,000 home moves per annum and represent about 50% of all homeowners. With an aging population this market will grow substantially over time. Some projections suggest increases from 19 million in 2014 to 26 million by 2040.
The second phase of the research was to select a sample of 31 households for in-depth qualitative interviews.
This part of the research found that the over 55s are drawn to New Builds as they offer features such as low maintenance costs, low running costs, manageable gardens and new home warranties. The report suggests that older buyers are 20% more likely to consider purchasing new-build properties over existing homes when compared with younger buyers.
However, those interviewed felt that New Build marketing was more directed at younger buyers. The report argues that more should be done to sell the benefits of new build to the over 55s, some of which may not have considered new build as an option.
The interview findings concluded that many older buyers were looking for a similar or increased amount of space. This was often to accommodate relatives, or to provide crafts and hobby space.
Many of those surveyed did not view themselves as being “old” or in need of specialist housing. Marketing messages to this group should therefore avoid traditional stereotypes.
In summary, key findings included:
- More than half of over 55s (54%) released an average of £105,000 equity as a result of their move
- 46% invested an average of £84,000 in buying a new home
- 74% of those downsizing said the main reason for doing so was to reduce maintenance costs
- 40% of the over-55s occupy a four-bedroomed house compared to 20% of the overall population
Of those that choose to downsize, there was a strong preference for two and three bedroomed homes.
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