Posted on 22 November 2022 by Keith Osborne

Richard Williams of Cognatum explains why now is a good time for older homeowners to consider downsizing…

Richard Williams of retirement specialist Cognatum talks about increasing interest in the economic and social benefits of the developer’s age-exclusive sites.

He said: “Downsizing is an exercise that many people undertake, for numerous reasons – to release capital, to find a more practical home, to be closer to family or friends, or to live in a property that’s more suited to a lock up and leave lifestyle – to name just a few.

“But along with the benefits there are many barriers to the exercise, and historically many retirees delay the process for as long as possible.

“As inflation hits a 40-year high, with energy bills leading the march; as interest rates embark on a mortgage-holder’s nightmare upward trajectory; and pension incomes effectively shrink, many formerly reluctant downsizers are fast-tracking their decision to make the move.

“Enquiries to our sales department for both new and re-sale property on our 60-plus retirement estates have grown dramatically over the past three months, and as winter approaches and the cost of living climbs, demand continues to surge.

“Retirees who own a family home that they have grown out of are in a strong position in the face of increasingly bleak economic times. By selling a property that they have grown out of and swapping it for a smaller model, they can release capital or pay off any remaining mortgage debt while at the same time reducing the cost of living, and embrace the more pleasurable aspects of retirement.

“More often than not, the first barrier to downsizing is emotional rather than practical – knowing the ‘family home’ is being left behind can be a real wrench, something that can also be surprisingly painful for the ‘chicks’ that flew the nest years ago.

“Practical objections to downsizing are usually about lack of space; it can seem like an impossible task to fit the contents of a four- or five-bedroom family home into something with as little as half the square footage. Our advice would be don’t try – take what’s important to you and build your home around that, be it kitchen gadgets, books, craft supplies or golfing equipment.

Dairy Barn (Cognatum)

“Focusing on the positives will make the process easier. By identifying the aspects of a property that are really important to the individual, choices can be made about what can and can’t be compromised upon. And it’s worth bearing in mind that flexibility in location (not necessarily by much distance) can mean you simply get more space for your money.

“Downsizers should also concentrate on other aspects of a new home that are important – insulation and energy efficiency will be a priority; and for many retirees a property that can be locked up and left safely and securely allowing for worry-free travel is a real attraction. For all but the keenest green-fingers, a smaller garden, or grounds as part of a managed estate, can come as something of a relief.

“Building in some future-proofing also makes sense, for example, being within walking distance of shops and facilities allows for spontaneity now and independence from the car in years to come; flexible spaces that could be a study and then a downstairs bedroom; level living and outside space with fewer steps and staircases; and a downstairs bathroom.

“Along with the obvious financial and practical benefits of downsizing, those that have made the move will find that they experience a great sense of comfort, freedom and ease from no longer maintaining a large property.”

For more information:
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Cognatum, a not-for-profit company, has 60 retirement estates in 21 counties across central and southern England, a total of 928 retirement homes. All are in prime locations within vibrant market towns or villages, within walking distance of shops and restaurants. Each estate benefits from thoughtful architecture, landscaped grounds, and a dedicated estate manager.