Millions of over 55s are stuck in properties that are far bigger than they need due to a severe shortage of suitable smaller homes.
Research from Legal & General found that one in three older homeowners want to downsize, yet only 7% are able to do so, leaving 7.7 million spare bedrooms empty.
L&G CEO Nigel Wilson said 'last time buyers' (LTBs) were often overlooked in the market, despite the fact they could play a key part in easing the UK housing crisis.
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"Helping young people to get onto the housing ladder through initiatives like Help to Buy 2 is important, but enabling older people to realise their downsizing dreams could have a far greater impact in terms of unlocking family housing stock for people to buy."
"It's an appalling truth that millions of English last time buyers want to downsize into a two-bedroom property at the same time as Shelter are reporting that one in four children in London live in overcrowded homes."
The typical LTB lives in a four-bed house and would like to downsize to a two-bed property, according to L&G.
The most common reason for considering downsizing by over 55s is that their property no longer meets their needs.
"Many older homeowners allow inertia to keep them in their current home which is no longer fit for purpose and which is expensive to maintain, the report claims.
"This is a particular issue for older homeowners, many of whom don't work.
"Many of the over 55s – and 63% of those with at least two spare bedrooms – do intend to move, but all too often, they leave it late. More than half believe that it will be best to wait until they are over 70 before moving, and a quarter will wait until 80."
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