Almost half of over-55s are looking to downsize their home

Some 47 per cent of homeowners aged over 55 plan to downsize their homes in the future, releasing an average of £112,000 in equity from the move, a survey reveals. 

Three quarters of would-be movers listed convenience as their main reason, and only 28 per cent said it was to release cash for retirement.

However, 60 per cent of those who told Prudential they planned to move said they would use the money raised to boost their retirement funds and improve their standard of living. 

Elderly movers: Convenience, smaller gardens and financial relief are reasons offered for downsizing

Nearly half, or 47 per cent, of over-55s will use the extra cash for travelling more, while 13 per cent want to help their children buy a house and 14 per cent plan to give the cash to children.

Some 11 per cent of those asked said they expected to make more than £200,000 from trading down.

The number of downsizers might be higher but people are put off by a lack of suitable retirement homes, fees and rising house prices, the research showed. 

Some 38 per cent of those aged over 55 believe moving would be more popular if more housing was available, while 24 per cent say it’s down to the cost of stamp duty, solicitor and estate agent fees, and 17 per cent blame high prices.

The survey reveals a regional split with older people in some areas more inclined to move than in others. 

Some 63 per cent over over-55s in Northern Ireland and 60 per cent in the East of England want to downsize, while just 41 per cent of those living in London, 45 per cent in Scotland and 45 per cent in the West Midlands felt the same.

Vince Smith-Hughes, a retirement income expert at Prudential, said: ‘It is interesting to see that these figures challenge the common theory that “my house is my pension”. 

‘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.’