Last week, I wrote an article on the plight of the Letchworth 20 something’s often referred to by the press as ‘Generation Rent’. Attitudes to renting have certainly changed over the last twenty years and as my analysis suggested, this change is likely to be permanent. In the article, whilst a minority of this Generation Rent feel trapped, the majority don’t – making renting a choice not a predicament. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) predicted that the private rental sector is likely to grow substantially by 1.8m households across the UK in the next 8 years, with demand for rental property unlikely to slow and newly formed households continuing to choose the rental market as opposed to buying.
However, my real concern for Letchworth homeowners and Letchworth landlords alike, as I discussed a couple of months ago, is our mature members of the population of Letchworth. I stated that the current OAP’s (65+ yrs) in Letchworth were sitting on £1.32bn of residential property … however, I didn’t talk in depth about the ‘Baby Boomers’, the 50yrs to 64yrs old Letchworth people and what their properties are wort and more importantly, how the current state of affairs could be holding back those younger Generation Renters.
In Letchworth, there are 2,130 households whose owners are aged between 50yrs and 64yrs and about to pay their mortgage off. That property is worth, in today’s prices, £781.9m. There are an additional 2,192 mortgage free Letchworth households, owned by 50yr to 64yr olds, worth £804.7m in today’s prices, meaning…
Letchworth Baby Boomers and Letchworth OAP’s are sitting
on £2.9bn worth of Letchworth Property!
These Letchworth Baby Boomers and OAP’s are sitting on 7,918 Letchworth properties and many of them feel trapped in their homes, hence I have dubbed them ‘Generation Trapped’.
Recently, the English Housing Survey stated 49% of these properties owned by the Generation Trapped, as I have dubbed them, are ‘under-occupied’ (classed as having at least two bedrooms more than needed). These houses could be better utilised by younger families, but research carried out by the Prudential suggest in Britain it’s estimated that only one in ten older people downsize while in the USA, for example, one in five do so.
The growing numbers of older homeowners who want to downsize their home are often put off by the difficulties of moving. The charity United for all Ages, suggested recently many are put off by the lack of housing options, 19% by the hassle and cost of moving, 14% by having to declutter their possessions and 14% for family reasons such as staying close to children and grandchildren.
Helping mature Letchworth (and the UK) homeowners to downsize at the right time will also enable younger Letchworth people to find the homes they need – meaning every generation wins, both young and old.
However, to ensure downsizing works as a country, we need more choices for these ‘last time buyers’.
Theresa May and Philip Hammond can do their part and consider stamp duty tax breaks for downsizers. Our local Council in Letchworth and the Planning Department should also play their part, as should landlords and property investors to ensure Letchworth’s ‘Generation Trapped’ can find suitable property locally, close to friends, family and facilities.