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Real Estate

Will more sheltered housing be needed as the government incentivises downsizing?





A new government housing market white paper has announced that it will be looking to offer incentives to older people that would encourage them to move out of their family homes and into smaller accommodation in order to create a more fluid market, but could this create a new opportunity for investors?

There has long been a trend in the UK of older people remaining in homes that are far too big for them, long after their families have grown up and flown the nest. This creates bottlenecks in the market where there is a lack of properties for people looking to move up the ladder to buy.

Government housing market white paper

The government has revealed that it will be looking to address this historic issue in its new housing white paper, read more here.

Housing minister Gavin Barwell refused to give any in-depth details about what the incentives would mean for older residents, but he did tell ITV that the bringing back to market of an increased number of family homes is a major focus for the government moving forward.

“We’ve got a lot of demographic change in the country and an increasing elderly population, so it’s not just about how many houses you build, but are you building the right kind of houses? If we can make it easier for elderly people to move it releases family homes that we’re desperate for. It’s a really interesting idea,” said Mr Barwell.

One problem that will need to be addressed is just how the government plans to make its dream a reality. It’s expected that older people will be encouraged to move into retirement communities and sheltered housing as part of the move, but there are problems with severe shortages.

Despite the aging population in the UK and the increase in the number of people living past retirement age in the last few years, there’s a marked lack of homes that meet their needs. Retirement housing makes up just 0.6 per cent of all private accommodation in the UK, according to Knight Frank, and if the government is going to continue to promote this as an alternative, then it’s an area of the market it will need to lean on.

This could provide investors in retirement homes with a potential avenue for new income in the coming years. If indeed the government wants more older people to voluntarily leave their homes and move into retirement housing, then there needs to be housing of sufficient quality to attract people.

New developments are helping to address this in the private sector, with newer forms of retirement housing increasingly focused on the needs of the user and the community aspect of accommodation. As well as offering care and assistance, these homes promote social areas and independent ways of life, all of which tick the right boxes for older people and provide them with somewhere new and exciting that they may well want to live.

So, if the government housing market white paper is planning to promote moving out of family homes and into retirement accommodation, it may well be the case that it needs the private sector to step up to the plate, and this could give potential investors all the incentive they need.