Could downsizing your property give you a new lease of life?

Chastleton House

At a time when much debate in the UK centres on insufficient housing to cater for the needs of a burgeoning population,encouraging downsizing by older people to make way for buyers of a younger generation is again being put forward as part of a solution.

Apparently,according to the Prudential, more than 2m homeowners over the age of 55 and over plan to downsize in the next few years.Another report suggests that downsizing could release upto £100,000 cash from the average property sale in the UK (in London this figure could be as much as £275,000).

So why and why now?

Homeowners have for many years felt trapped in the economic recession but they are now becoming more confident about the future and making a major lifestyle move. For many, the sale of a current property means:

-more appropriate living space as needs change in older age
-having more disposable cash perhaps to distribute to family
-help to ‘make ends meet’ in retirement,
-being able to spend on holidays and travel
-funds to secure long term care.

Most of those in the Prudential survey said that cash released by selling the equity in their property would be used to fund their later life.

Restricted physical mobility, high property maintenance and refurbishment costs,the ever increasing utility prices for gas,water and electricity are just some of the drivers for downsizing according to the website downsizingdirect .com

This trend to downsizing is is seen by many commentators as good for the general property market, freeing-up housing for those finding it difficult to step onto the property ownership ladder.Some feel it may also lead to the building of new developments to suit an ageing population where services and the benefits of community will provide greater fulfilment and quality of life.

The strong message seems to be for those looking to downsize is to seek appropriate professional financial advice. It is important to have a realistic expectation of what a sale will yield, and what will be left after all the costs of selling,buying a another home, and moving have been factored into the mix.

Have you had recent experience in this?Do let me know.




Five steps to boost retirement income from your pension pot

7027606047_cac49c3b79_t21Retirement annuities have been much in the news lately.

According to recent reports, many of the estimated 400,000 people per year in the UK who purchase annuities are not aware of the best deals available to them. Only a mere 13 % apparently realised they could possibly do better than their first offer from an insurance provider.This is not a new problem – see link below :

Thankfully, there is extensive information out there to help pensioners obtain the best rate of income for their needs in return for their hard saved pension pots. The industry watchdog, the Association of British Insurers,(the ABI), has recently highlighted the disparity between the best and the worst annuity providers by publishing a much acclaimed ‘name and shame’ list. Some rates were up to 46% better than the worst.Retirees can help themselves with possibly the most important financial decision of their lives, and significantly boost their income for life. Four tips to help boost your income from an annuity are:

1. Don’t accept the first quote you receive. This might be from the provider with whom you saved your pension pot,or perhaps a suggestion from an online brokerage. As with most important purchases today ,you need to shop around for the best deal to suit you.You may be considerably better off this way.

2. Be sure to ask for and receive a guaranteed quote from a provider and not merely an indicative one. The latter might be attractive to you but it could be more than the income amount you eventually receive. So avoid this disappointment.

3.Make sure all your personal details have been included when applying for an annuity. Always fully declare the full state of your health which, if poor,could entitle you to an enhanced income. In this case, where a person is not likely to live as long as would normally be expected statistically an insurer will often be prepared to raise the annual income payable under an annuity.

4. On taking appropriate professional advice: don’t pay over the top for advice. Advisers say around 1.5 % of the pension pot is about right, but up to 3%, often without real advice given, is probably not. You can try , the financial adviser website as a place to start your search.

5. Finally, having taken advice, it may be that taking a full annuity does not best meet your needs. Instead you may consider drawing down the whole or part of your pension fund gives you more control over your income and future investment. Note there are some restrictions to this option under regulations which limit the amount you can withdraw in this way. Your adviser can help with this.

Other useful (and unaffiliated) links to go to for information are:

National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF)

Association of British Insurers (ABI)

Citizens Advice Bureaux(CAB)


Satisfaction with Life: the keys to a fulfilling retirement

This post keeps on the theme of retirement. It is well known that life expectancy among those currently retiring in their sixties means they could have some 25-30 years more ahead for them.But what to do with all that time?That is the challenge.

We are accustomed to seeing emphasis placed on good financial planning for retirement. Although having a good income behind you when you finally give-up the 40-hour working week knocks away a high hurdle when contemplating a long period of retirement, this of itself does not guarantee a fulfilled and positive retirement.So if you have looked forward to no longer having to answer to your boss, or the demands of every day business, how can you give yourself the chance to enjoy your new found freedom?How do you find satisfaction in your and real quality of life?

Recently, the University of Greenwich in England, undertook a survey to try and find the answer to the above and other questions. This study in conjunction with Laterlife Learning,looked at the responses to an e-survey conducted for the period October 2008 and January 2010. This study found that the keys to a fulfilling retirement were:

1. Having  aspirational reasons for retiring

2.Going on a retirement course

3.Having an active social life

4.Having someone to share retirement with

5.Having at least three of the ‘the Big Five’ personality traits

6. Money matters:Having a lack of financial resources,though, was not an impediment to satisfaction in retirement, and access to enjoyable experiences.

Some help tips in the conclusions from the survey report briefly are:

  • aim to retire on your own terms
  • find a goal for retirement that excites you
  • have activities that go beyond job work and non-work activities and breach the transition into retirement
  • gain a positive effect by attending a retirement preparation course
  • find an active social circle in retirement doing things you enjoy
  • look on money as only part of the retirement satisfaction jigsaw

You can read the full brief report providing the findings for the keys to a fulfilling retirement by the University of Greenwich

And,if you would like to also see what the pre- and post- retirement counseling course team Laterlife can offer




Key Factors in Retirement Planning

From Tax Credits at


In retirement planning, always a thorny question to deal with is : what level of  income will I require  in order to maintain my standard of living when I eventually decide to retire? Financial and pensions advisers  call this target income the replacement rate, which is expressed as a percentage  of income received immediately prior to retirement.

So won’t I need at least as much income in retirement as before? You can count yourself fortunate if you can retire without taking a drop in income. But that you can probably keep up your level of spending on consumption with less income has been put down to the following:

  • In retirement most people pay less tax
  • For many the cost of saving for retirement stops
  • Most households look to have no mortgage left to pay for, or not  for long after retirement

At the  RETIRE Project at Georgia State University  required replacement rates have been studied and calculated for decades. As at 2008, the project estimated that households with earnings of more than $50,000 needed about 80 percent of pre-retirement earnings to maintain the same level of consumption. The Boston College finds achieving this level of earnings depends on the following factors:

  • Level of government income support, if any – the higher any supplementary financial support received the lower the retirement income provided by savings needs to be
  • Rate of return on savings– the higher this is, the lower the amount needed to be put away as savings
  • Age when savings begin– the earlier the start,the less is required to be saved by way of regular contributions
  • Age of retirement – the longer this is delayed, the lower the required saving rate needs to be

You can see a summary of the Boston College paper here:  “How important is Asset Allocation to Financial Security in Retirement?”

Adjusting any of these factors can make a great deal of difference to the prospective retiree. Starting to save early, and/or delaying retirement can make a significant difference to the outcomes. When retirement planning appropriate professional advice should be taken.