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Downsizing: who does it and why?

Divorce, bereavement, financial pressure: our new research reveals the most common reasons people part with their homes to move to somewhere smaller or in a lower price bracket. 




The new survey of 1,000 Gransnet users has uncovered the main reasons why older people sell their homes and buy a smaller property:

  • One in five downsizers sell up under pressure
  • Over one-third use the proceeds to help their children or grandchildren

Findings also showed:

  • Almost two-thirds (63%) say they have downsized or thought about it
  • 29% have no intention of downsizing or haven’t thought about it. Of those who haven’t downsized, 66% have two or more spare rooms


A large proportion of users revealed harsh pressures behind their decision:

  • 21% say they did so under pressure. Of those, 40% cited divorce, bereavement or other changes in circumstance
  • 23% could not cope with the upkeep of a larger home 
  • 23% needed to pay off debts or mortgages
  • 16% needed to fund day-to-day living costs 
  • 19% needed to release money to help their children and 4% their grandchildren 


How much cash in the bank did the move leave them with?

  • 24% of those who have downsized realised £100,000 or more
  • 37% said they realised £50,000 or more


What did they spend their financial gains on?

  • 38% said they used it to refurbish their new home
  • 36% said they helped their children or grandchildren
  • 36% put money into savings

However, 17% of those who sold up said it left them out of pocket...


How should the government address older people and the property market?

  • 54% agree that the government should incentivise older people to move from larger properties in order to mobilise the housing market
  • 80% agree that blaming older people for the housing shortage is just a way to avoid addressing difficult questions around housing and public resources

Gransnet Editor Cari Rosen said: “Selling the family home is about more than bricks and mortar. There is often a lifetime of memories tied up within it and it can be hugely emotive, especially for those who feel under pressure. Happily most people who downsize do so willingly and it’s reassuring that many are boosting their savings pots or helping out their children or grandchildren.”


Read the full survey results here.


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Images: Shutterstock