UK retirees face ‘devastating’ bungalow shortage

9 October 2017
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Bungalows now account for fewer than 7% of houses for sale, according to new research – and this could have a knock-on effect on the choices retirees have when they want to downsize.

Analysing data from property portal Rightmove, online estate agent House Simple looked at the number of bungalows and houses currently for sale in 75 major towns and cities in the UK, where there were at least 250 houses on the market.

It found that just one in every 14 houses listed was a bungalow. In 73% of those towns and cities, bungalows account for fewer than 10% of all houses currently on the market today.

House Simple says the knock-on effect of fewer bungalows could be “devastating”. This is because the lack of suitable properties for the older generation could force people into care homes earlier, or result in longer hospital stays putting more strain on NHS services.

A shortage of bungalows is particularly acute in the capital, where only 0.9% of houses for sale were bungalows – just 129 bungalows are currently for sale in the whole of London.

Other cities where bungalows make up less than 2.5% of houses currently for sale were Aberdeen (1.4% or four bungalows), Portsmouth (2%/12), Oxford (2.2%/16) and Cambridge (2.5%/12). In the north, Manchester was the only city to have a shortage of bungalows, making up just 3.8% (77 bungalows) of houses for sale.

Fewer bungalows built now

This backs up recent data from the National House Building Council, which reports that in 2016, just 2,210 bungalows were built, compared with 26,406 in 1986.

Unsurprisingly, seaside towns, popular with retirees, offer more than their fair share of bungalows. Topping the towns with the most bungalows for sale is Worthing, where 24.1% or 134 bungalows were for sale. This is followed by Bournemouth (21.9%/140) and Eastbourne (20.1%/ 97).

Knock-on effect could be “catastrophic”

Alex Gosling, House Simple’s chief executive, says there is little incentive for developers to build bungalows because of the lower profit margins achieved when compared with houses.

He says: "We could be facing a specific housing shortage that hasn’t been addressed, or certainly hasn’t been at the top of the government’s priority list. There is a lack of suitable housing for the older generation, and with fewer bungalows being built and the existing stock declining or off the market indefinitely, there is a crisis brewing that could put a terrific strain on the care home system and NHS in the next decade.

“Without any incentives or government intervention, why should house builders choose needs over profit? There is every chance that house builders could stop building bungalows altogether in the next three to five years. The knock-on effect of that eventuality could be catastrophic if provisions aren’t put in place,” he adds.

Bunga-low: UK towns and cities with lowest number of bungalows for sale

Town/City

Region

No. of bungalows
for sale

Total no. of houses for sale (inc. bungalows)

% of total
homes
for sale that
are bungalows

London

London

129

13,854

0.9

Aberdeen

Scotland

4

294

1.4

Portsmouth

South

12

604

2

Oxford

South East

16

720

2.2

Cambridge

East

10

405

2.5

Slough

South East

34

1057

3.2

Newport

Wales

24

743

3.2

Basingstoke

South

23

631

3.7

Manchester

North West

77

2036

3.8

Shrewsbury

West Midlands

26

681

3.8

Reading

South East

37

957

3.9

Watford

East

35

884

4

Hull

East Yorkshire

45

1097

4.1

Stockport

North West

32

774

4.1

Source: HouseSimple.com, October 2017. 

Bunga-high: UK towns and cities with  highest number of bungalows for sale

 

Town/City

Region

No. of bungalows for sale

Total no. of houses for sale (inc. bungalows)

% of total home
for sale that
are bungalows

Worthing

South East

134

557

24.1

Bournemouth

South West

149

682

21.9

Eastbourne

South East

97

483

20.1

Mansfield

East Midlands

108

542

20

Southend

East

52

291

17.9

Norwich

East

147

883

16.7

Poole

South

136

832

16.4

York

North Yorkshire

141

899

15.7

Brighton

South East

85

680

12.5

Middlesbrough

North East

177

1474

12

Sunderland

North East

148

1266

11.7

Leicester

East Midlands

199

1733

11.5

Doncaster

South Yorkshire

239

2129

11.2

Newcastle

North East

197

1766

11.2

Nottingham

East Midlands

266

2,462

10.8

Source: HouseSimple.com, October 2017.

Comments

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

One simple solution to this problem would be to extend the current help to buy options for retirees looking to downsize. Bungalows are a lot more expensive than flats so to incentivise the builders give retirees the same option as first-time buyers, particularly the option to borrow 25% interest-free for 5 years. I have Parkinson's so would ideally like to move to a bungalow for wheelchair access which would free up my 2 bedroom flat for a young couple, but the added cost of a bungalow makes this financially crippling.Tim H

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

As an elder looking for a retirement location in a bungalow, this is sad, sad news.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Yes, very true when we down sized we had great difficulty in finding a suitable bungalow. when we did we had a lovely old lady right next door in a bungalow, sadly she died about 18 months later. The bungalow was sold a few months later and the new owners as soon as it was purchased put in planning application to remove the roof and build an upper story. Despite objections from ourselves and others in the street the local authority agreed the application and our neighbouring bungalow is now a four bedroom HOUSE. One less bungalow in the depleting stock in Reading. There have been others around the area that have fallen to the same fate. When will councils wake up and stop granting permission to people whose only interest is to make money from these projects.T

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Very true WAH. I moved to a bungalow some years ago and until I retired still had stairs at work. Now I have been retired a few years I am having issues with stairs especially to train stations. I make a point of going up//down stairs whenever I can but it is an issue.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I just had the shock of seeing a bungalow similar to mine on offer near me.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Bungalows are considered ideal for most retirees. However interms of health they are not ideal. As long as a person has resonabe mobility they should not move into a bungalow as climbing stairs helps tomaintain mobility and and hence strength. I have seen the effect of moving into a bungalow from near relatives and they soon start to have difficulty climbing stairs unless they are fairly active outside. My mother could go upstairs as fast as I could until the last few weeks of her life and she was 93 having had stairs all her life. I am 80 next and I have no intention of going into a bungalow until I am immobile. When we decide to downsize we will look to go into a 2 or 3 storey house.

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