A recent report by Legal & General stated that since the pandemic, many older homeowners had put their plans to move home 'on ice'. It said that fewer OAP homeowners are planning to downsize from their large family homes after the pandemic made them realise the actual value of their local community and space.
Historically, many OAPs move home to another part of the country to live near their grown-up children. Yet the pandemic has shown that OAPs can live quite well locally without moving to a strange new town to live near their children. The support networks of their friends in their existing community has emphasised the significance and importance of having friends close by.
Yet this trend isn't just for OAPs moving away. Many Luton OAPs who aren't moving away from Luton (because their family is still local) are also deciding to stay put longer for the same reasons. Even though they are rattling around their large 3 and 4 bed detached family homes, they love the space their large Luton homes offer.
And for those Luton OAPs who are wanting to move, the issue is that the choice of properties they could buy to downsize is limited. This scarcity of properties for sale, called the 'housing crunch’, can be seen by that lack of choice of properties for OAPs to move to.
Only 78 bungalows are for sale
within a 3-mile radius of Luton
In a 'normal' Luton property market, I would expect this to be double or even triple this number.
All these factors combined means these OAP "eternal homeowners" threaten to make the scarcity of properties coming on to the market even worse!
So, why is this an issue for everyone else?
Well, because Luton OAPs aren’t moving from their large 3 and 4 bed detached homes to smaller bungalows or ground floor apartments, this is creating a blockage on the housing ladder. Luton families, in their 30’s and 40’s, are desperate for larger 3 and 4 bed detached homes for their ever-expanding families. But if the OAP sellers of those family houses aren’t moving, they will remain overcrowded in their existing homes.
Let’s look at the numbers first.
- There are 4.42m UK over-65 property owners, and their properties are worth a combined £1.53 trillion (which covers just under three-quarters of the national debt).
- 3% of those aged 65 and over own their home (although 1 in 10 still has a mortgage).
- There are 16,145 Luton homes occupied by OAPs, representing 20.8% of all the households in Luton (notable compared to the UK average of 31%).
- 3% of those Luton OAPs are retired, meaning the rest are still working! (The national average is 83.4%).
- The total value of the property in Luton owned by OAPs is £3.23bn.
- 3% of Luton OAPs own their home outright (compared to the national average of 65.8%), and 6.5% of Luton OAPs own their home, albeit with a mortgage (compared to the national average of 5.5%).
Many Luton OAP homeowners simply love the house and neighbourhood they live in, often living in their homes for over 25+ years. I talk to many mature Luton homeowners who say they are afraid to put their home on the market, because they believe (incorrectly) if they find a buyer for their home and can’t find another property to go to ... they would be made homeless.
I can only share my opinions on the matter. The one thing I have seen in my years in the property market is that so many Luton people leave it too late to move home. So, when they do move, they aren’t fit enough to do all the jobs in their new home. Indeed, is it better to move home in your late 60's/early 70's, meaning you can still do the little things to make your new house a home, rather than in your late 70's/early 80’s and find the jobs are much harder to do?
Also, if you are worried about finding your next home, get yourself on the mailing lists of all the Luton estate agents. A recent study showed only 1 in 6 buyers were on an agent’s mailing list for the property they bought. Therefore, by being on the mailing list, you will get to know of any suitable properties coming on the market before most others. This is important in this housing market; a property is often sold STC before it hits Rightmove (to a buyer that put themselves on the agent’s mailing list).
By downsizing, you could use the additional funds to top up your pension, take the family on a holiday of a lifetime (once it’s safe to do so of course), or help your children get on the housing ladder themselves with a deposit for their own home.
I fully appreciate many of the 12,079 OAP homeowners in Luton have many reasons to stay, be that sentimental, friendship, support networks etc. My advice to all of you is to do your homework, put yourselves on the mailing lists of agents (in case the property of your dreams comes up) and do what is best for you. By downsizing, you are giving yourself better options for your quality of life and massive opportunities to spend more time on the things you enjoy like your family, holidays, or even helping others.
The choice, as they say, is yours.
If you are a Luton homeowner and want to ask me anything about what I have said, please drop me a line to discuss the matter further at no cost or obligation.