A nationwide survey by the UK’s leading independent equity release adviser, Key, has found 44 per cent of estate agents have seen a rise in enquiries from over-65s wanting a more manageable home and lower outgoings.
Selling up can release an average of £46,000 of equity while downsizing can reduce household bills, but estate agents say a third of all sales fail because homes haven’t been updated or kept in good repair.
Two thirds of the 101 estate agents surveyed in May to June this year also say vendors expect to sell for more than their home is worth. And there is the problem of a lack of suitable homes for them to downsize to – especially for those who are less mobile.
“There are substantial financial gains to be made from downsizing but estate agents suggest that it is unfortunately not the quick and straightforward process that many think,” says Dean Mirfin, chief product officer at Key.
“It may make financial sense for sellers hoping to make money, to invest in home improvements before putting their houses on the market but with some looking to make money by downsizing, they may simply not have access to the cash.
“For those electing or wanting to stay in their homes, equity release is proving a viable solution for adapting and maintaining their homes.
“Sixty three per cent of those releasing equity from their homes in the first half of this year did so for home and garden improvements, typically involving major projects such as new kitchens and bathrooms as well as garden landscaping, at the same time having an eye on the future in terms of making the home more manageable.
“What is clearly evident from this research is the fact that when we consider the reasons why older homeowners look to downsize, it is not always necessary and there are other options which they can consider while remaining in their homes.”
The expanding equity release market has enabled retired homeowners to cash in more than £3billion of property wealth a year and stay in their homes.
Customers can release an average £77,380 of property wealth, rising to £91,000 in the South East and nearly £134,000 in London.
Key has 20 years’ experience of helping people access the equity in their homes and is the UK’s leading independent adviser for equity release and later-life lending.
Based in Preston, Lancashire, more than one million people have been helped by Key for financial planning in retirement and the company specialises in giving face-to-face personal advice.
Anyone looking to release equity from their home can get Key’s independent guide to equity release by calling 0800 531 6010 or visiting keyadvice.co.uk.