Downsizing key to over-55s’ retirement plans - survey

Many want to release equity to help their children or grandchildren
Many want to release equity to help their children or grandchildren

One in seven older home owners planning to downsize in later life believe they will be unable to retire unless they move to a cheaper property, a survey has found.

Nearly half (47%) of over-55s who own their home are planning to sell up and move to a less expensive property in their later years, according to Prudential.

And while convenience was found to be the main reason for moving, a significant proportion of people are relying on downsizing as a key part of their retirement plans.

One in seven (13%) of those expecting to downsize said they could not afford to retire otherwise.

Prudential’s survey of more than 1,000 people suggests that home owners in Northern Ireland and the East of England are particularly likely to expect to downsize their property, while those living in London, Scotland and the West Midlands are the least likely to sell up and move somewhere smaller.

Those planning to move to a cheaper property expect to free up around £112,000 in equity on average by downsizing. One in nine (11%) believe they will make over £200,000 by downsizing.

Of those who expect to raise money from downsizing, 60% will use it to boost their retirement funds and improve their standard of living.

Nearly half (47%) will use the cash for travelling more, while (13%) want to release equity to help their children buy a house and 14% plan to simply give the cash to their children.

But for many people, downsizing is not mainly about money, with some seeing running a smaller home as less of a hassle. Nearly three-quarters (74%) of people surveyed said convenience is their main reason for their plans to downsize.

Just over a third (34%) of people also welcome the prospect of having a smaller garden, saying it is a key reason to move.

Vince Smith-Hughes, a retirement income expert at Prudential, said: “Although we see a large proportion of those taking equity from their homes to boost their retirement incomes, most people have accepted that the main reason they need to move home in later life is for convenience.

“With the average amount of equity raised likely to be just over £100,000, and with many other demands on this cash - such as helping children, paying off debts and putting money aside to pay for care in the future - it is clear that for most people the best way to fund retirement is through saving as much into a pension as early as possible in their working lives.”