It may take some sturdy steps to help Generation Rent to get onto the property ladder, according to a recent Equifax study on downsizing. The study, performed by YouGov, found that 46% of respondents were behind the idea of a government initiative that encouraged and helped older homeowners to downsize, leaving more housing stock available for younger buyers.
A governmental White Paper outlined how last-time buyers could be incentivised to move to a smaller home so that the generations below them could move up a step. Second-steppers could sell their medium-sized homes to first-timers and so on up the ladder, easing the housing stock crisis.
More sheltered homes
This plan would involve building more sheltered accommodation complexes so that older people would feel comfortable with the move, but despite there being more support for (46%) than against (40%), it could still be a controversial move.
Some may argue that it’s up to the government to build more affordable housing for first and second-steppers, rather than forcing elderly people to vacate the homes they’ve lived in for decades.
However, many senior homeowners are quite willing to make this move, especially if it helps the younger generations. As long as it’s incentivised, rather than forced, it could prove popular. Other YouGov research showed that a lot of last-time buyers live in a four-bedroomed house but would love to move to a two-bedroomed house or flat. Around a third have thought about downsizing, but only 7% go through with it.
Down with the kids
Support for a downsizing scheme was strongest among younger people (18-24), who were 65% in favour. However, 68% of the respondents are fairly or very concerned about the struggles that Generation Rent face in buying their first home.
Of course, downsizing alone isn’t a magic bullet, but if that 7% of last-timers could be doubled or even tripled (remember, a third would like to downsize), then this will go some way to easing the housing supply shortage and enabling older people to live more comfortably.