With the housing crisis hitting younger people hard – particularly in London – it would appear sensible, on the surface, for older people to downsize so that younger people can find somewhere to live with a bit more space.
So, why is this hardly happening? The answer is that it often actually costs more to downsize than stay where you are; living somewhere smaller can be more expensive.
Moving house in London can cost at least £30,000 just for the stamp duty, solicitors’ and surveyors’ fees and removal costs – and that doesn’t take into account that smaller houses are not necessarily much cheaper.
The value of a house doesn’t increase necessarily in proportion with size and older people may find that the drop in price of a smaller property will be subsumed by the costs of moving. When you place that fact alongside the aggravation of moving, it’s no wonder that older people prefer to stay in their larger homes, even if they do cost more to heat.
Even getting a mortgage to cover costs at an older age is almost impossible. Most lenders are reluctant to take on older people who may not have as long left to pay off the loan – even if they do have a decent amount of savings.
A person’s home is not just bricks and mortar, or an investment for an individual; homes hold treasured memories and echoes of the past that people find difficult to break ties with.
Your home is the place where you brought up your children, where you spent time with friends and loved ones. Why leave all that behind when there is no financial incentive to downsize and you’re approaching a time when you want to be in familiar surroundings?
Until the government introduces some sort of motivation such as tax relief on people downsizing home, it looks like we will continue to have a generation of older people living in homes that may now be too big for them, but make sense in every other way.