June 15, 2024

Brexit hits retirement housing sales

BrexitSalesJust about every marketing department in the country has come up with Brexit “research” to grab headlines, and FirstPort’s Retirement Homesearch estate agency has joined in.

It says that in the second quarter of 2016, new buyer registrations for retirement properties slipped by more than 20% from the first quarter to 4,744.

This figure is a 30% fall on the same period last year and is due to “uncertainty before the Referendum”.

However, the number of property viewings (2,974) and instructions (513) remained steady on first quarter numbers, showing that registered buyers are still actively looking to downsize.

Nick Freeth, Managing Director, Retirement Homesearch says: “Uncertainty around the referendum may have caused many downsizers to sit on their hands until after 24 June, but the Leave outcome could mean a further delay in decisions, as markets fluctuate and affect pensions, which will have a knock-on effect on Britons’ retirement plans.”

The press release then quotes “six million older Britons” living in extremely valuable freehold houses with two or more excess bedrooms.

It cites our old friend Baroness Greengross’s International Longevity Centre (ILC-UK) showing that “under-occupancy amongst the older generation is now a widespread issue with six million people living in houses with two or more excess bedrooms”.

“Since 2005 there has been a significant increase in the number of 65-74 year olds living alone (300,000).”

Well, if you are going to downsize and sell a valuable freehold house there may be better things to spend the money on rather than a retirement leasehold flat with high ground rents and disputed service charges, few years on the lease and money-earning clauses such as exit fees on sale and subletting.

When that flat is managed by a company (FirstPort) with an Office of Fair Trading ruling against one of its subsidiaries (Cirrus) for systematically cheating pensioners through collusive tendering and the freeholder is the Tchenguiz organisation, based in the British Virgin Islands … the choice might become easier to make.

Campaign against retirement leasehold exploitation wants a healthy and competitive retirement housing market, and there are some very decent retirement housing providers. Not sure Retirement Homesearch gets through the door of any of them, however.


  1. Michael Hollands says

    It’s all very well for people like Baroness Greengross and the outfits she represents ( ARMA, ILC-UK, EAC etc) advising the elderly to downsize.
    But they are expecting people to give up probably a freehold property with most likely no dodgy legal issues for a leasehold property with all sorts of potential problems, hidden costs and disputes.
    And when leaseholders have complained in the past she has insulted them.
    Why cannot these people and so called charitable and regulatory organisations finally realise that major reform is required to make this lifestyle fairer.
    The elderly retired require a secure stress free lifestyle, and should not have to perform as “Barrack Room Lawyers” to obtain fair treatment.
    I note that many retirement properties are being sold with less than 80 years left on the lease.
    Another shock in store for the unsuspecting purchaser.

  2. Michael Epstein says

    Michael Hollands,
    A spot on post as usual. You are right that many retirement properties are being sold with less than 80 years on the lease.
    And of course, because purchasers are downsizing and so do not require a mortgage, potential buyers do not even have the safety net of having to have a valuation done before purchase as would be the case if they needed a mortgage.
    Fortunately there are an increasing number “Barrack Room Lawyers” with “Too much time on their hands” that can warn people of the dangers of buying into the retirement property dream and end up living the retirement property nightmare.