The gen­er­a­tion who are sit­ting on a gold mine

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Downsizing -

Ni­cola Ven­ning meets the home­own­ers un­lock­ing the wealth in their spare rooms

Who­ever said pots of gold were found at the end of the rain­bow got it wrong. The wealth is in your home, or rather your spare room. The prop­erty group Sav­ills has es­ti­mated that more than half of the 5.53 mil­lion homes owned by over 65s have at least two spare bed­rooms and that this group is sit­ting on a to­tal of £1.33 tril­lion in hous­ing wealth. “There is enor­mous po­ten­tial for the older gen­er­a­tion of home­own­ers to un­lock sig­nif­i­cant sums of eq­uity tied up in their homes,” says Lu­cian Cook, head of res­i­den­tial re­search at Sav­ills.

Ac­cord­ing to the study, 54 per cent of homes owned by the over 65s in the south-east of Eng­land, have two spare bed­rooms and these are worth £428,837 per house­hold. In the south-west, the fig­ure is also 54 per cent with the two ad­di­tional bed­rooms be­ing worth £303,207.

The West Mid­lands has one of the high­est num­ber of 65-year-old house­holds with two bed­rooms at 57 per cent. This equates to £222,869 of locked up eq­uity per home.

Lon­don in­evitably tops the ta­ble with £599,652 worth of spare room cash.

Such po­ten­tial ex­tra wealth can fund a very fun re­tire­ment or, in the case of the Phillips’, help them af­ford to move into Chel­tenham town cen­tre.

Tired of rat­tling around their large fam­ily home in the pretty vil­lage of Ke­mer­ton in Glouces­ter­shire, empty-nesters John Phillip and his wife, Beth, both 73, are swap­ping their five-bed­room house (on the mar­ket for £1.1 mil­lion) and mov­ing to a bet­ter suited, Re­gency-style, mod­ern town house in cen­tral Chel­tenham (with a £980,000 price tag).

“The new house has much less gar­den and a sig­nif­i­cantly smaller foot­print. It will re­quire less en­ergy and be eas­ier to main­tain,” says Phillip. “We will find it eas­ier to en­joy the things we like do­ing in Chel­tenham, without hav­ing to do a 14-mile drive each way.”

The cou­ple are part of a grow­ing trend. Sav­ills es­ti­mates that around 90,000 house­holds down­size each year un­lock­ing eq­uity of around £14.5 bil­lion.

“A lot of peo­ple, es­pe­cially down­siz­ers, are buy­ing lock-up-an­dleave apart­ments in nice ur­ban spots and city cen­tres,” says Philip Har­vey, part­ner with Prop­erty Vi­sion Buy­ing Agency, based in Lon­don and the Home Coun­ties.

Chic Chel­tenham ticks a lot of boxes for this group. Re­cent re­search from Knight Frank, claims that more than 40 per cent of its buy­ers in the re­gency town are over 50 years old, with the vast ma­jor­ity be­ing down­siz­ers.

“There is a lot go­ing on with lit­er­ary and jazz fes­ti­vals, horse rac­ing, as well as restau­rants and parks. It makes for a very cos­mopoli­tan life­style,” says Hayley Wilks at Knight Frank.

Ground floor pe­riod con­ver­sions are par­tic­u­larly in de­mand, she says, as well as homes with off-street park­ing, good se­cu­rity and lifts, if the apart­ment is on a top floor.

Ar­chi­tec­turally at­trac­tive mar­ket towns and cities with homes close to vi­brant cen­tres, are also a good fit for this gen­er­a­tion. Christchur­ch, Chich­ester and East­bourne are all pop­u­lar with the over 60s.

It’s pos­si­ble that the sale of one five-bed­room house in the right vil­lage can fund the pur­chase of two prop­er­ties. Suzi and Paul Lacey, 59 and 61 re­spec­tively, are sell­ing their home near Tewks­bury to buy a bolt­hole in West Sus­sex or St An­drews (they have fam­ily in both ar­eas) and a pri­mary res­i­dence in Italy. It has been their life-long dream to be some­where warmer and on the coast so it’s off to Um­bria for them.

Chris­tine Yex­ley (64) wants the re­verse. She aim­ing to down­size to Bath once she has sold her el­e­gant four-bed­room water­front home in Golant, Corn­wall, which over­looks the Fowey es­tu­ary. Her vil­lage home, which comes with a nat­u­ral pool and al­most an acre of gar­den, is on the mar­ket with Knight Frank for £1.18 mil­lion.

Yex­ley wants to be in the his­toric city cen­tre, “where I can walk into town and I don’t need a car,” she says, “and where I can be near my old friends.” Al­though she is leav­ing the coun­try for the town, Yex­ley still val­ues some kind of out­side space. “I need to open the door and go into my own gar­den,” she says.

Giv­ing up on a gar­den is a com­mon mis­take many down­siz­ers make, says Wilks. “Trans­fer­ring from hav­ing a gar­den to a flat with no gar­den can be too big a jump,” she says.

Suc­cess­ful down­siz­ing re­quires some care­ful plan­ning. As well as the home, the size of the fur­ni­ture and num­ber of be­long­ings also

Ital­ian job: Sue and Paul Lacey want to buy a bolt-hole in West Sus­sex or St An­drews while pri­mar­ily liv­ing in Um­bria, Italy, main; their kitchen, right

City liv­ing: John and Beth Phillips are sell­ing their home in Ke­mer­ton for a house closer to the town of Chel­tenham, above

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