Older homeowners sell up to start renting

imageEquity-rich, older home owners are selling up and renting to release cash for retirement or the next generation.

The smart money is with the older home owner these days. Generations who have lived through successive housing booms are equity rich and in a position to downsize and help the young by releasing capital. They have more choice than ever before. Older people can join the growing ranks of more involved grandparents, or move to rented accommodation, or spread their wings and travel. Whichever way – the decisions of the old impact on the young.

Liam and Judy Dunne are selling a house they have loved for years near Ware in Hertfordshire. They intend to move to somewhere near Holt in Wiltshire, where the attraction is their 32-year-old daughter Rachel, her husband Ben and, most of all, their eight-month-old grandson, Noah. They hope to look after him while Rachel goes back to work part-time as a special needs teacher. “I grew up in this village and I was looked after by my parents and my grandparents and I know what a good thing it is. It is very lovely to be asked to do the same,” says Judy.

She and Liam are both in their sixties and full of beans. “We are young and fit and extremely busy since we swapped paid work for voluntary work,” she says. “In previous decades people of this age were old in attitude and expectation, but things have really changed now.” They were present at Noah’s birth and have been devotees ever since. “It is a bit of a trend these days for grandparents to look after the grandchildren. I think it is a good thing because parenting is hard work, and for younger generations now the cost of living is so high that they need two incomes to cope.”

Although the Dunnes have lavished a lot of care and money on The Old House, and have strong ties with the village, a classic English scene with a green, war memorial, shop, pubs and primary school, they are prepared to speed the process by renting if they find a buyer. Strutt & Parker (01727 840285) is asking £895,000 for the Grade II* listed black-and-white timbered picture-book house with four bedrooms and pretty garden. “We will down-price when we move rather than downsize,” says Judy.

The release of equity is a prime motivator, as much of the wealth in the property market is held by senior citizens – up to £752.1bn according to the latest research from the equity release adviser Key Retirement Solutions. Despite the recession, well placed silver surfers have only had to sit and watch their assets go on rising in value. The research shows that home owners of 65 and over gained £863m in property wealth in the last three months as pockets of the markets rose. The biggest winners, apparently, were in London and Scotland, where the market has been buoyant.

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