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Shortage of small homes stops retirees from downsizing

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09/04/2019
In some areas a lack of two-bed homes means older homeowners are trapped in large family properties they neither want nor need to live in
Shortage of small homes stops retirees from downsizing

A drastic shortage of two-bed houses in some areas is trapping retirees in big houses they don’t want, and stopping them from downsizing, according to Responsible Life.

The retirement firm found that, in the worst affected areas, there are more than three four-beds for sale for every two-bed property on the market.

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.

Across the country, four-bedroom homes are more widely available in two thirds of areas, while in 15% of the country there are twice the number of four-beds for every two-bed home on the market.

Worst-hit areas

Cambridge and Rugby are the capitals of the crisis that is preventing retirees moving out of large houses in favour of smaller properties. In Cambridge there are 3.2 four-beds for every two-bed and in Rugby the ratio is 3 to 1.

The North of England offers the most choice for downsizers, with St Helens, Hull and Sunderland topping the list of areas where two-bed houses outnumber four-beds.

Steve Wilkie, managing director of Responsible Life, said: “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.

“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.

“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.”

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