Older owners ‘stay put’ in family homes, says Nationwide

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A growing proportion of homes have two or more spare bedrooms

Older property owners are staying put in the family home as the UK housing market continues to see low turnover.

Uncertainty has led to relatively little buying and selling activity among existing homeowners, the Nationwide Building Society said.

The lender said that owners aged 55 to 64 had typically been in their current property for 17 years, some 10 years longer than 35 to 44-year-olds.

This means a growing proportion of homes have two or more spare bedrooms.

Some 54% of homes where the owner lives in the property are “under occupied” in this way, the Nationwide said, up from about 42% in 2000.

“A possible consequence of the low rate of churn [people moving] is that the housing stock is not being utilised as effectively as it could,” said Nationwide chief economist Robert Gardner.

Activity among first-time buyers has returned to levels seen before the financial crisis. However, people are tending to buy a little later in life.

Homeownership among 24 to 44 year-olds has dropped and Mr Gardner said, traditionally, that age group tended to move more frequently.

So homeowner activity has fallen, while recent political uncertainty has meant many people choosing not to move.

In recent times, this has meant relatively little movement in prices.

The latest Nationwide data shows that UK house prices rose on average by 0.3% in July compared with the same month a year ago. That meant the average home is valued at £217,663.

It is the eighth month in a row that annual house price growth has been at less than 1%, under the Nationwide’s measure.

“The property market may be stuck in a sub-1% rut but low supply and rock-bottom mortgage rates are keeping its head above water,” said Michael Biemann, chief executive of lender, Selina Finance.

“It is hard to see the narrative changing between now and Halloween.”

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