An additional 2,050 spare bedrooms have been locked out of the Lincoln housing market since 2011 as Britain’s ageing population means the country’s stock of homes is being used more unproductively.
The number of spare bedrooms in Lincoln between 2011 and 2021 increased from 39,577 to 41,627.
The number of Lincoln households living in properties with at least two spare bedrooms (i.e., spare ‘spare’ bedrooms) increased by 684, from 12,624 households to 13,308 households between those ten years.
That means 31.3% of Lincoln households have two or more spare bedrooms.
And this isn’t just a local issue; Britain has 8,902,471 properties with a spare ‘spare’ bedroom (i.e., they have two or more spare bedrooms).
Some of the difficulties are that downsizing in Lincoln often needs to make financial sense for mature homeowners.
Most mature Lincoln homeowners live in average-priced homes and suitable bungalows, even though they are smaller, often cost as much, if not more, than their large family home.
This issue will slowly worsen in the coming twenty years, so what are the options?
There is a necessity to motivate builders to build suitable properties for these mature homeowners to move into and to change the dynamics of the available properties to buy. For example, there are only 2 million bungalows in the UK, and we only built just over 1,800 new bungalows in 2020, yet seven in ten UK people (c. 10.7 million) aged over 65 want to live in a bungalow.
Secondly, there needs to be reform of the taxation rules on housing. Taxation works on the carrot or stick method.
The ‘stick’ could make it less attractive to stay in larger houses by increasing the higher council tax rates in the higher council tax bands. The ‘carrot’ could incentivise mature homeowners to downsize with allowances on stamp duty or inheritance tax, thus making a move easier.
However, the cost-of-living crisis and heightened energy bills could be doing the Government’s job for them.
The number of larger Lincoln homes owned by mature homeowners, often for 25 years plus, has been snowballing in the last six months.
This is good news for younger families that can afford to jump from their smaller homes, yet many can’t afford to make the jump for the same reasons why mature homeowners are moving home.
For example, of the 181,195 properties put on the market in the UK in November and December 2022, 56.9% were under £350,000. However, of the properties sold in the UK since Christmas 2022, 66.3% of them have been £350,000 or less.
This means those homeowners in the middle to upper levels of the Lincoln property market need to be very realistic with this pricing as the supply of the mid/high range properties is outstripping the demand.
Whilst it is not a good distribution of housing if you have some people in overcrowded households and others with spare bedrooms, everyone should be able to choose how to live.
Many Lincoln homeowners delay downsizing because they prefer to grow old in their family home rather than downsize. However, I often see mature homeowners downsizing too late when say, they have had a fall, are unable to manage the basics of gardening or cleaning, or the home becomes a physical hazard.
This downsizing phase will continue to grow, peaking in the mid-2030s.
The issue is, I cannot see builders or the Government building hundreds of thousands of bungalows in the next decade.
So maybe, you should consider making a move in the next few years, when you will have a better choice of bungalows to move to and you are able to put your stamp on it when you are in your 70’s and before you are unable to in your mid/late 80s?
If mature homeowners have large properties earned from working hard and paying taxes, then quite frankly, that is nobody else’s business, and no one should force you out!! You might want that extra space for children and grandchildren to come and stay or as office space, a television room, or a hobby room. Yet please, I must stress these are only suggestions.
These are my thoughts – what are yours?