Is now the time to downsize?

Director Richard Addington asks if this is a good moment to move to a smaller more easily managed home. 


Today, life expectancy at birth in England, has increased to around 80 years, little wonder that our long term property needs have changed. One of the trends we have noticed here at Jackson-Stops is the rise in demand for modern and more urban houses, perhaps reflecting a desire for older buyers looking to future-proof themselves.

Traditionally, homeowners purchased their “forever home”, often describing themselves as ‘last time buyers’, where they would raise a family and see out their days. However, increasingly, sellers see their houses as a vehicle to make their retirement more comfortable, or help their family financially, which is something the inheritance tax system incentivises us to do.

For the last decade or so the country house  market here in the south west has included  many homeowners who have been considering downsizing. Many have concluded that the sheer hassle of moving, the costs associated with it (mainly Stamp Duty) and, until the pandemic, the lack of demand for country houses has made the prospect unappealing.  All that may have changed in the last 2 years. In the prime rural market (over £600,000) average prices have risen by about 30% in the last couple of years after a period of almost static prices during the previous decade  That increase brings country property more in line with the town market, where prices grew consistency over the same period.

Here at Jackson-Stops we have a department dedicated to the sale of newly constructed homes.  Lousia Hooper, head of new homes, says "over the last ten years we have seen a steady increase in the average age of buyers and this change has influenced our developer clients to change the design of their homes to accommodate the needs of more mature downsizing buyers".


When you consider that over the last 50 years, average house prices have increased  about 3.5 times faster than both inflation and the stock market, the majority of house owners, who have owned property that long have built up an enormous amount of tax free equity in them and may be tempted to cash some of it in.


One of the other significant elements of home ownership is their running costs.  These are clearly coming under a great deal of scrutiny at present with the sudden rapid rise in energy costs along with general inflation that affects maintenance and repair, insurance and staff costs.  These increasing costs also make moving to a smaller, more easily managed  and more energy efficient home more appealing now than it would have 10 years ago.


With these twin factors coming into alignment,  could 2022 be the year to choose to downsize? Certainly, after two years of exceptional price increases, rising inflation and interest rates, many commentators are suggesting we have seen the best of the market and now could prove to be a good time to cash in some of that equity and move to a smaller house.


If you would like to know the conditions of the housing market, or are interested to know how we can help, please do not hesitate to contact the team at Jackson-Stops.