The population is ageing and that has serious implications for the housing market. The number of people aged 60 and above living in England has increased from 10 million to 13 million over the last twenty years (chart below) and currently make up 23% of the total population. They are projected to rise to nearly 18 million over the next twenty years, accounting for 30% of the total population. A larger older population has significant consequences for the economy, healthcare, and housing.
The population is ageing primarily due to the large post-war baby boomer generation entering retirement and living for longer than previous generations. As a predominantly home-owning generation, many (but not all) live in homes worth much more than they paid for them. As people age their housing requirements may change and healthcare needs increase. Therefore, many expect downsizing to become a bigger trend. This would also help with older people under-occupying their homes but, unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Very few older people move home willingly. The chart below shows 76% of people aged 60 and above have not moved home in the last ten years. Meanwhile most older people live in average priced homes so have little financial incentive or even ability to move into purpose built older peoples’ housing. Therefore, most older people who do move into the limited supply of purpose-built housing do so out of necessity rather than desire.
Given the limited supply of purpose-built older peoples’ housing, low levels of demand as people want to continue living in their existing home, and limited financial capacity to pay a premium for new build properties in their local market, it appears that their existing homes will have to become more flexible. Unfortunately, homes built more recently are better suited for older people with higher proportions containing accessibility features than those built prior to 2001. Given the challenges and changing needs of older people, greater consideration will have to be taken about how to adapt the housing stock to ensure their needs can be met in their existing home.