Two thirds (66%) of people aged 60 or over have never considered downsizing their property, according to a recent survey by BLP Insurance, a specialist residential warranty and commercial latent defects insurer.

Those from the West Midlands (82%) and London (71%) were the most resistant to the idea of downsizing, while respondents from Yorkshire and Humberside (45%) and the North East (44%) were the most open to such a shift in their living arrangements.

The main drawbacks identified by those surveyed to downsizing were the upheaval or stress of moving (45%) and reduced living space (35%), while loss of familiarity (30%), such as reliable neighbours, and the sentimental impact of leaving the family home also ranked highly (28%).

Unsurprisingly, the top two motivating factors for downsizing among people aged 60 or over were related to property size; the burden of maintaining a larger house and garden (43%) and that their current property is too large for their needs (32%). Other factors included a reduction of day-to-day living expenses (29%). The death of a spouse or partner was surprisingly only a reason to move to a smaller property for less than a fifth of people (19%).

The survey also revealed perceptions of those aged 60 or more to moving to purposely built retirement villages. Nearly half of those surveyed were worried about the cost (46%), a further 44% expressed reservations about hidden fees and a quarter (25%) saw complex contracts as a major pain point.

Phil Harris, Director at BLP Insurance, said: “It is of critical importance that we incentivise older people living in large, former family homes to downsize. We are in the midst of a much publicised housing crisis and must seek solutions to free up properties to meet people’s needs.

“Constructing an adequate stock of purposely-built homes for last time buyers is the first step. This will free up housing stock for first and second time buyers, provide extra financial reassurance to those downsizing, while injecting much needed impetus into the whole market. Moving home, especially in elder years, can be an arduous and emotional experience. It is clear that the housing industry needs to do more to make the process of downsizing as seamless, stress-free and transparent as possible.”

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