The housing crises, not just about the young…
The focus in recent years has been on how to get younger people out of Generation Rent and onto the housing ladder. Ever increasing housing targets and schemes such as Help to Buy and stamp duty relief go some way to helping to relieve the pressure, but there is a market that is yet to be fully tapped into and which could potentially release an extra two million homes.
In a survey by McCarthy and Stone and YouGov in August 2018, it was found that 70% of over 65s think a greater focus should be made on providing suitable homes for older people. This would allow those who want to sell their family house and right size their home by moving into smaller, good quality homes that they can manage as they get older, to be able to do so, without feeling like they are compromising their retirement.
It seems though that far too few homes are being built as elderly friendly (think bungalows) or retirement homes and of them far too few are for sale rather than rent. In London, the pressure on housing is becoming so acute that developers are commonly knocking down individual homes, such as bungalows, that would be suitable for the elderly and replacing them with blocks of high end flats because bungalows often come on larger plots that can accommodate flatted developments instead.
When it comes to renting a retirement home, building specialist affordable rental homes for the over 65s is fine (and they are needed as not all the baby boomer generation have escaped the housing crises by outright owning their homes) but in another piece of research for Inspired Villages in 2017, it was found that there were just 186,000 retirement properties available to be owned in the whole of England and Wales. In contrast there were three times as many to rent.
Surveys by Knight Frank and YouGov have shown that a third of older people would like to move if only they could find suitable homes to buy, so surely it is time for more owned retirement homes to be built? After all, if someone over 65 or a couple have spent decades paying off a mortgage and gaining the security of owning their own home, why would they then choose to give it all up for the greater insecurity of renting?
The UK clearly needs to see more properties for older people available to buy. This would encourage more of the baby boomer generation sitting on billions of pounds worth of bricks and mortar assets to move home, thereby freeing up family homes to once again be the family homes they were designed to be. If we can achieve this goal, if the UK can liberate the top end of the housing market, then it really would be an extra step towards tackling the housing crises we see today.