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TBS in – Downsizing: should you consider renting instead of buying a property?

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Knight Frank
London and Country specialist property buying agents
16 Jul 2019  |   Jemma Scott

According to data from Hamptons International over 50’s now make up 15% of rented households so far this year. Last year, the English Housing Survey revealed there were 414,000 over-65s renting privately in 2016 to 2017, a big jump from the 257,000 doing so a decade ago.

Jemma Scott, Partner at The Buying Solution, says; “We have noticed a real increase in the more mature ‘lifestyle’ renter. These silver surfers are choosing to remove themselves from the shackles of homeownership and hand the responsibilities of home maintenance back to landlords. Many of our more mature rental search clients are definitely baby boomers who benefitted from a huge house price growth, are mortgage free and likely haven’t rented since their student days. Often they will have sold the historic (and crucially empty)  family home to release some equity to the children who are often struggling to get on or climb the housing ladder, maybe buy a little buy to let flat in town and invest the rest for retirement. It becomes a fun project rather than the trudge of shabby bedsits they remember from their student days but there is definitely an education process we go through and downsizing from the family home comes with its own issues – we usually go through an adjustment process whereby they have to reevaluate how they want to live without acres of gardens and 1000’s of square footage to look after.

 One client I have worked with recently wanted a mini version of their sprawling Oxfordshire home ‘in town’ but with a bit of handholding, with some creative thinking and a fantastic garden designer we were able to find quite the opposite – a riverside penthouse with a south facing balcony and a stunningly adorned south facing balcony on a long term lease – no service charge, an in house gym and a concierge to deal with all the deliveries, dry cleaning and plumbers booked at the Landlords expense– they commented they couldn’t believe it took them so long…

 There are also a real shortage of decent rentals and hot competition for the better ones – we have worked with clients who want to jump into ‘flexi-living’ but are frustrated by what is openly available – as with the ‘for life’ purchase the best options often trade off-market so the same crucial local networks and connections apply when we are securing the ultimate downsize as they do when we are purchasing that classic Old Rectory in the village which comes to market once every 40 years.”

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