Bank of Scotland

Downsizing driving Scottish homemover market

06 October 2012

  • Downsizing is now the main reason for people selling homes in Scotland, with a wider cross-section of people considering it as an option.
  • One in five Scots (21 per cent) are downsizing earlier than expected, with a third intending to trade down to help reduce household bills.
  • Potential cash windfall rises by 64 per cent over the past decade

Almost half (44 per cent) of potential homemovers in Scotland are looking to ‘downsize’ within the next three years, compared to just 23 per cent looking to trade up to a larger property, according to the latest research from Bank of Scotland.

Reasons for trading down
For homeowners reaching retirement it is common to consider downsizing to a more manageable home. Bank of Scotland’s report however, found that the reasons for downsizing have broadened in these tough economic times. Whilst 68 per cent of potential downsizers in Scotland want to move to a smaller property that is better suited to their circumstances, 34 per cent would like to move to a smaller property to help reduce bills. Almost a third (32 per cent) would like to free up equity in the property and another third (32 per cent) said they want to downsize to help support retirement plans.

A fifth (21 per cent) of those considering downsizing are looking to trade down earlier than expected, with the majority citing financial concerns as the key driver. Comments from those surveyed included:

  • “The cost of living is making it hard to maintain this house in this location”
  • “To help save money on bills”
  • “Because of financial worries”

Downsizing no longer just for ‘empty nesters’
Whilst older homeowners in Scotland are still playing a key role in the downsizing market, the research highlights that homeowners of different ages are now considering it as an option. Unsurprisingly two thirds (68 per cent) of potential downsizers are over-55s but over one in four (25 per cent) are aged between 46 and 55 and over five per cent are aged between 36 and 45.

The report showed that almost two thirds (64 per cent) of potential movers considering downsizing have lived in their current property for over a decade. However, one in four (25 per cent) have lived in their property for between six and 10 years and over one in ten (11 per cent) have lived in their property for only five years or less.

Laurence Mann, Head of Mortgages, Bank of Scotland comments: “Downsizers are now playing a key role in the Scottish housing market and as the study shows we are starting to see homeowners on different stages of the property ladder considering it as a sensible option as more and more families are looking at ways to save money.

“Whilst we have seen a significant rise in the potential cash windfall, downsizing can make a lot of sense for a wide range of people, it is important to consider carefully whether trading down is the best solution. Whether you are looking to lower utility bills, pay for an offspring’s tuition fees, or free up extra cash for retirement we recommend you seek professional advice before taking action.”

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