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Homes shortage thwarts downsizers

One in five older people are considering downsizing but are being put off by a lack of homes and the cost of moving.

The figures come yesterday backdrop of falling property sales, down 12.4% in England and Wales, according to government figures.

Bower Retirement Services said it has seen growing interest in using property wealth to help fund or boost retirement planning, with around 20% of its clients considering downsizing.

Its quarterly Adviser Tracker Research showed that a lack of available homes to buy and the cost of moving are blocking plans to move to cheaper properties.

Fear of losing touch with family and friends is the main reason for not going ahead with downsizing, the study found.

Around 70% of advisers say clients dropped plans to downsize because of family ties.

Nearly half of advisers questioned said clients could not find suitable homes while over a third blamed the cost of moving and feared they would not make enough money.

The struggle to move is reflected in Land Registry data showing property sales in England and Wales fell 15% in February to May compared to the same three months a year ago. The monthly average of sales was 61,283 compared with 70,029.

Andrea Rozario, chief corporate officer at Bower Retirement Services said: “Downsizing is logical and sensible and should work for many over-55s homeowners if they can find the right house at the right price.

“It is clear however that it is not that simple as there are financial issues to deal with when moving house with stamp duty alone costing 5% on house prices above £250,000 which can make the decision to move uneconomic.

“Buying a £300,000 home would cost around £5,000 in stamp duty.

“When you add that to the emotional wrench of moving home with the risk of losing touch with family and friends it can make downsizing seem a bad idea.”

The Bower research shows attitudes are shifting on leaving an inheritance. Older clients are less worried about leaving money now with the main reason being that children are financially well-off.

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