Older homeowners prefer to stay put

13 November 2019

Despite the Federal Government’s downsizer initiative, retirement-age Australian home owners are unlikely to move out of the family home unless they have to, usually due to health reasons.

Research from the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) Moving, downsizing and housing equity consumption choices of older Australians was undertaken by AHURI research from the University of Sydney to understand who downsized and why.

Around 65% of home owners aged 65-71 in 2001 were still living in their original residence in 2016, while older renters were more likely to move as less than half were living in the same dwelling in that same timeframe.

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From 1 July 2018, homeowners over the age of 65 could contribute up to $300,000 extra into their super from the sale of their home to help ‘downsize’ into a dwelling better fitted for retirement while boosting retirement savings.

Stephen Whelan, Associate Professor from the University of Sydney, said the research showed Australian’s were still reluctant to downsize or spend their housing wealth in retirement.

“When such transitions do occur, they tend to be associated with key life events that are not induced by or associated with policy settings; for example, health shocks that require a move into aged care; retiring from the workforce or the death of a partner,” Whelan said.

By the time they were 80, 12.26% of Australians were living in a nursing home, which was up from 2.92% of those aged 75-80.

The research also showed Australians aged 55-64 were as likely to be home owners as their older counterparts in retirement but were less likely to own their home outright and had less equity.

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