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Rattling around in the house; Older couples reluctant to move to smaller home.

Byline: TRICIA PHILLIPS

THE belief that older people want to downsize into smaller, more manageable properties when they make their final house move couldn't be further from the truth.

Less than one in 10 would be willing to switch to a much smaller property to see them through retirement, according to Nationwide Building Society.

The majority of us would baulk at the prospect of living anywhere with much less space than the family home.

Six in 10 people say their last move would be to a home the same size or larger than where they currently live and less than a quarter would settle for a home that is only slightly smaller.

But why do people feel they need to live in large properties in their older age?

Research shows space is the main priority - whether it's having enough of it for grown-up children and grandchildren to come and stay, or to enable people to enjoy their hobbies and to house all the possessions they have built up.

When it comes to location, the number one choice for an ideal final move is an area that is quieter and in the countryside, closely followed by a home by the sea.

Andrew Baddeley-Chappell, Nationwide's head of mortgage policy, says: "Our survey shows that people have a clear view of their ideal final home. This is not surprising, given the experience they have of the housing market.

"However, what is particularly interesting is that many people are not willing to compromise on the size of the property. There are practical concerns about having enough space, especially if younger or older family members need to share the property, or if they may require room for additional storage and hobbies."

The problem for many over-fifties when it comes to moving to what they see as their ideal final home is that they are property rich and cash poor and that has left them with few options.

There are very few desirable, cheaper properties available and they simply don't have the big sums of cash needed to move - even if they do find a property they want to move to.

There are fewer bungalows being built and more smaller flats but these tend to be in expensive developments.

Many people also still have outstanding mortgages and, until recently, the big banks and building societies were reluctant to lend to them into their older age.

That has left many homeowners with little option but to stay put and take out an equity release plan to help fund retirement.

These plans involve giving up a lot of the equity built up in a home in return for being able to live there for the rest of your life.

David Hollingworth of mortgage broker London & Country Mortgages, said: "As many people are living and working longer there is every chance that older homeowners don't feel ready to give up on a more spacious property. That, coupled with the heavy costs that come with a house move and the fact that a smaller home in their desired area may not come at a significantly lower cost, could see more and more of us putting off the traditional downsizing last house move."

The good news is that many lenders are catching up with the changing needs of borrowers and offering mortgages much later in life to those who can continue to make repayments.

Nationwide has announced a new maximum age for borrowing of 85 - and it applies to both existing mortgage customers and those remortgaging from other lenders via a mortgage broker.

There are plans to allow homeowners to apply directly to Nationwide, without the use of a middleman, later this month.

This option is available across its product range, with a limit for any new borrowing of PS150,000 and with a loan to value limit of 60% - that means you need a 40% deposit or equity in a property.

Other lenders offering mortgages much later in life include Halifax, Clydesdale Bank, HSBC, Tesco Bank, Metro Bank and Virgin Money.

AGE LIMITS ON MORTGAGES

BARCLAYS All loans have to be repaid by the time you reach 70, or by the time you have retired, whichever is sooner. Will consider applications beyond this on an exceptional basis.

CHELSEA BUILDING SOCIETY Must be repaid by the age of 75.

Although may consider beyond 75 on an individual affordability assessment.

CLYDESDALE BANK Interest-only loans must be repaid by age 70.

Repayment mortgages by age 75. They will consider individual cases beyond these ages.

HALIFAX Maximum age at the end of a mortgage term is 80.

HSBC No set age limit for repayment but loans after the age of 75 are reviewed on an individual basis.

LEEDS BUILDING SOCIETY Must be repaid by age 75.

MANSFIELD BUILDING SOCIETY Some loans can be repaid up to 80.

METRO BANK No maximum if you meet the lender's affordability checks.

NATIONWIDE Maximum age at the end of mortgage term is 85.

NATWEST Must be repaid by the time you are 70.

SANTANDER Interest-only loans must be repaid by age 65. Repayment mortgages by 75, or by the time you have retired, whichever happens to be the sooner.

TESCO BANK Mortgages must be repaid by the age of 75.

VIRGIN MONEY Maximum age at end of mortgage term is 75 years and 364 days.

YORKSHIRE BANK Interest-only loans must be repaid by age of 70. Repayment mortgages by age of 75. They will look at individual cases beyond that.

YORKSHIRE BUILDING SOCIETY As with sister group Chelsea, must be repaid by the age of 75. Although may consider beyond 75 on an individual affordability assessment.

We won't gain by going down in size

Frank Chennell, 77, and wife Penny, 76, have 10 grown-up children between them and eight grandchildren. Frank, a former teacher, says they are property rich but pension poor. He knows they need to downsize but is worried about how they will fund a move. They fear they will struggle to find somewhere affordable that is desirable. Plus, they would struggle to leave the home that has so many happy memories.

"We've been married for 10 years and we each have big families from our previous relationships. We sold both our houses to buy this one, which is in a beautiful spot in East Sussex. It's big enough for our particularly large family but it's not a huge house. The rooms are fairly small although we can squash all the family in for fun Christmases and other special occasions.

We know we need to do something and soon, as we are getting older and cash is tight. One difficulty is the cost of moving. We are on a fairly low income. Finding a suitable home is proving hard - some of those we have considered have fewer bedrooms and are smaller, but they are still expensive so we won't gain anything by downsizing. Our hearts sink as the properties we are interested in we simply can't afford.

It seems a huge task and very daunting. We feel a bit trapped.

There seems to be resentment of older people living in bigger houses. But we've both worked hard all our lives and raised a family. We are almost made to feel guilty and yet we have done all the right things.

We know we are luckier than a lot of people as we do have options - but it's still difficult."

A smaller home in a desired area may not come at a significantly lower cost, which puts people off

CAPTION(S):

space race Frank and Penny need to downsize but find it daunting
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 3, 2016
Words:1266
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