UK group suggests special help for oldies to downsize and free up family homes

Taylor Scott International News

A group of politians in the UK have called for older home owners to be given support to help them move home so that more properties can be made available for families. According to the All Parliamentary Group on Housing and Care for Older People a Help to Buy style equity loan scheme and stamp duty exemption would encourage older people to downsize. The claim follows an analysis revealing a third of over 60’s would downsize if it was easier, but up to half of older home owners are priced out of local retirement housing. Their report argues that a Help to Move equity loan would help older homeowners with lower value properties ‘bridge the gap’ between the value of their home and the purchase price of a new retirement property. It also said that many older people cannot easily access mainstream mortgage lending, even when they can afford the repayments. The report goes on to argue that exempting older people purchasing homes worth up to £250,000 from stamp duty would reduce their transaction costs, while leading to a net gain for the Treasury because of the consequent moves in the property market. It also points out that the ‘guidance guarantee’, to be brought in with new pensions freedoms next year, as well as a new duty on local authorities to provide care advice, should be wrapped into a comprehensive package together with housing advice, helping older people make decisions about where and how they live after retirement. The report cites analysis by the think-tank Demos revealing 58% of over 60s, equal to around eight million people currently living in seven million homes, are interested in moving. A third of over 60s specifically wanted to downsize, while a quarter said they were interested in buying a retirement property. If ‘Help to Move’ encouraged all those wanting to downsize to move home researchers calculate that 4.3 million family homes would be freed up, easing the pressure on the housing market. However, between 40 to 50% of older home owners aren’t able to afford to downsize in their local area as their family home is not worth as much as new retirement housing, making additional financial support crucial for many older people in lower value properties. The group points to land prices, an overall lack of supply, and limited availability of ‘shared ownership’ options as reasons why retirement housing is unaffordable for many older people. ‘More and more people in their extended middle age are thinking about downsizing. This can mean much reduced fuel bills and maintenance costs, perhaps the release of some capital, and can prevent a forced move in later life. But down-sizing is not easy,’ the group’s chair Lord Best. ‘Our report recommends a Help to Move package of Stamp Duty relief, financial advice and mortgage support like the Help to Buy assistance for younger purchasers to generate the demand that will get more high-quality homes built for this age group,’ he added. Claudia Wood, chief executive of the… Continue reading →

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