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Moving insights from the over-55s: what homes do they buy?


The over-55s are an important and growing segment of the new-build housing market. To better understand their needs, this research looks at the reasons why the over-55s move and what types of homes they buy. A number of features were found to be particularly important to these purchasers, including reduced maintenance, low running costs and the availability of warranty. When they moved, although many households downsized (39%), many either same-sized (33%) or upsized (28%) in terms of the number of bedrooms they had.

Overall, a large proportion of households (40%) in this study moved either down or up to a four-bedroom home, making this the most common home size purchased by the over-55s. The study demonstrates that the over-55s should not be stereotyped as people who are winding down to retirement and universally inclined towards the idea of downsizing or moving to specialist housing. Many are active people, who are prepared to use their wealth to pay to move to a larger home that meets their aspirations for space and flexibility.

However, for some, downsizing is a logical choice. It is suggested that more could be done, in terms of design, to make downsizing a choice of preference for those people who are interested in taking this step.

Summary of content

This guide includes:

1. Executive summary

2. Background and introduction
Context including a consideration of the market, downsizing and household preferences.

3. Aims and methodology
Research objectives and research plan. Survey description. Use of the NHBC New Homes
Community Panel. Interviews with homeowners and house builders

4. Why the over-55s move
Defines the sample of households – their age profile and incomes.

Analyses why they moved and why they chose new-build homes.

Explores their aspirations and housing needs, with case studies demonstrating the wide
diversity of moves undertaken by households and the complex reasons for moving.

Includes insights on how the over-55s perceive themselves and the things that could be
acting as barriers to older people moving.

5. Purchasing patterns and trends

Considers the types of homes purchased, whether bungalows, houses or apartments.

The location of home purchased.

The size of home purchased and whether, in terms of bedroom number, they downsized, same-
sized or upsized. Detailed observations offered on the move patterns from different home sizes.

Financial outcomes for households, showing the amount of equity released, or additional funds
invested for those households that supplied sale and purchase data.

A joint consideration of size and financial outcomes.

6. A view on downsizing
Discusses the importance of establishing a widely accepted definition of downsizing
to predict with confidence the size of the downsizing market.

Sets out what is important to downsizing families.

7. Marketing new-build housing to the over-55s

Sets out some guiding principles for successful marketing to the over-55s.

8. Industry stakeholder views

Presents feedback from industry representatives on the main findings from this research.

9 Final observations, which highlight:

Understanding the over-55s.

The over-55s as a major market opportunity for house-builders.

Importance of making downsizing a choice of preference.