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People Proactively Planning House Move To Boost Wellbeing In Later Life

Published on 07 August 2023 12:46 PM

Co-Ownership is marking one year since the arrival of its Co-Own for Over 55s product - specifically designed to support people to move to more suitable housing as they age. The Department for Communities has provided £8 million to fund the product for four years. 55 per cent of applicants thus far have been pre-retirement age demonstrating that people are proactively planning for their future.

With Northern Ireland’s Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) reporting that by mid-2045 one in four people will be over the age of 65, up from the current frequency of one in six, Co-Ownership has identified that an updated housing strategy is required to support people to live independently for as long as possible. Co-Own for Over 55s is based on Northern Ireland’s existing shared ownership model, Co-Own, and helps bridge the gap between the value of where someone wants to move to and the value of their existing home or savings, with Co-Ownership purchasing a share of the property.

Charles O’Neill, Director of Product Development at Co-Ownership said, Understanding and adapting to meet the changing needs of our aging population is crucial, as the success of our first year has proven, and we are proud to have made a difference in the lives of these customers. We’ve had a mix of customers successfully apply so far. Some used the equity from the sale of their current home, whilst others had savings to fund their share in a new home that is better suited to their physical, social and emotional needs.”

Applications in the last 12 months came from nine different council areas, with two thirds of those who completed a purchase opting for a different type of home than their previous one. Meanwhile 72 per cent were single applicants.

Linda Robinson, Chief Executive at Age NI said, “It’s very common for people to find that their current home no longer meets their needs, and in some cases can become a catalyst for deteriorated mental or physical health. For instance, a two-storey property may pose issues for someone who has developed mobility issues. Some people may feel their home requires too much maintenance or is too expensive to run, whilst others may feel they would have a better quality of life if they were closer to family, a community or better transport links. Housing should never be a barrier to living independently. Co-Own for Over 55s is an excellent addition to the housing landscape but we need to continue to invest in specialist housing products to ensure we are meeting societal needs as Northern Ireland’s population grows older.”

Eddie Lynch, Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland echoed Linda’s thoughts. He said, It has been very important to us to work with Co-Ownership over the past year to promote access to affordable, good quality housing in support of people’s wellbeing in later life, but we encourage active collaboration and involvement with more organisations and policymakers in Northern Ireland, so that together we can create a society which respects, values and protects older people.”

Co-Own for Over 55s is open to anyone who is 55 or older. Successful applicants can choose a new build or existing property anywhere in Northern Ireland up to a maximum value of £190,000. As the product picks up pace, it is hoped to have a positive knock-on effect on the first-time buyers’ market.

Charles concluded, “As owners move on from their current homes, these properties are often coveted by first-time buyers’ and younger families. This could be good news to those hoping to buy a family home at a time when such properties are in high demand.  Co-Own for Over 55s, similar to all of our products, addresses the need for a housing system that works for everyone - and we look forward to working with various organisations, and our partners, to advocate for and provide alternative routes to affordable, fit-for-purpose housing for all in the years to come.”

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Last updated: Aug 07 2023

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