At Churchill Retirement Living, none of our customers benefit from the Help to Buy schemes that have underpinned the rest of the market in recent years, and this has meant retirement specialists don’t share a level playing field with other volume housebuilders.
However, we will start to see more widespread support for the retirement sector in 2018, as people catch on to the fact that by enabling older people to downsize we can spark a positive chain reaction that will help free up much-needed homes for the younger generation.
Stamp duty is one of the major barriers preventing older people from making a move, since they are often asset-rich but cash-poor. The chancellor’s stamp duty exemption for first-time buyers was a fairly transparent gesture to win over younger voters. It will do very little to solve the market’s underlying problems, but at least it shows a willingness to change the system. Hopefully more changes will follow.
Stamp duty potential
A recent report from think-tank Demos, Unlocking the Housing Market, highlighted that a one-off stamp duty exemption for older people looking to downsize would encourage many more to do so, and in turn free up homes for families and first-time buyers further down the chain.
Crucially though, these downsizers need quality, specialist housing to move into.
“We’ve seen a few significant new entrants taking steps into the market, but for many the barriers are high and there is little incentive to develop specialist retirement housing”
Twenty years ago the range of housing choices available to older people was limited, but that has all changed. Today’s retirees expect far more choice and greater quality, but the current system makes it hard for developers to meet that demand.
We’ve seen a few significant new entrants such as L&G taking steps into the market in 2017, but for many the barriers to entry are high and there is little incentive to develop specialist retirement housing.
The new Neighbourhood Planning Bill represents some progress, but far more needs to be done. The government, as well as the wider population, is gradually beginning to realise the benefits of enabling retirees to live independent, active and sociable lifestyles for longer.
I’m therefore confident that 2018 will see more being done to boost the supply of specialist retirement living accommodation across the country, and that the sector will continue to grow.
Spencer McCarthy is chairman and chief executive of Churchill Retirement Living
To view the online article click here.