A high end estate agency is calling for “a dramatic increase” in purpose-built retirement housing for older people.
Knight Frank says around 23 per cent of the population is currently aged over 60 and over the next 20 years this will rise to 29 per cent, pushing the median age from 40 today to nearly 43 years old.
The agency says that for all households between 2012 and 2037, more than three quarters will be headed up by someone aged 65 or over - yet only three per cent of new-build units in the pipeline are designated as ‘elderly’ or ‘sheltered’ housing.
“The population is forecast to continue rising strongly, and there needs to be more housing options for those looking to downsize, especially if they would like to live in an environment offering light-touch to more substantial care. Providing the right type of housing for all buyers benefits everyone in the market; freeing up the housing chains and thus helping all purchasers, from first time buyers climbing on the property ladder to those downsizing to a pied-a-terre” says Gráinne Gilmore, head of UK residential research at Knight Frank.
She says over-50’s hold 66 per cent of all housing wealth in the UK, equivalent to about £2.5 trillion. Some 25 per cent of over-55s - or some 2.5m households - say they want to move into some sort of retirement housing in the future.
“Since 2014, the government has implemented repeated reforms to other sections of the housing market ... However, the retirement housing sector remains overlooked. So this is a call for the government to deliver some tools to the market to facilitate an increase in the delivery of retirement housing which is so very much required - thus benefitting all areas of the housing market and the wider economy” according to Emma Cleugh, head of institutional consultancy at Knight Frank.