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More retirees have large mortgages but fewer are downsizing

Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA) President Adrian Kelly has revealed fewer retirees are looking to downsize this spring selling season.

REIA data has indicated spring listings were down by 20 to 40 per cent. Mr Kelly suggested this could be because the market is missing a larger cohort of sellers, many of whom are retirees who would downsize around the spring season in previous years.

“Instead they are sitting tight either because they have to due to lockdowns or because they know it will be difficult to buy something at the other end of the transaction,” Mr Kelly said.

“Despite the low interest rate environment, we aren’t seeing the usual new properties coming to market.

“Even if they do find a suitable property they will be under intense competition in order to secure it. 

“We are at a stalemate until we reach more vaccinations and a return to some sort of normality. Perhaps the usual spring selling season will be somewhat shelved and we will look forward to a revitalised summer selling season.”

Stuck with large mortgages in retirement

It comes after the ABC reported more retirees are struggling to pay off the large mortgages on family homes.

According to the publication, recent retirees are increasingly leaving the workforce with mortgage debt, which was far from the norm among middle income Australians in previous years.

Australian Bureau of Statistics research indicated the percentage of 55-64 year olds who owned their home outright fell from 70 per cent to 47 per cent, between 1990 and 2015.

Of that cohort, the percentage of those carrying a mortgage debt rose from 12 per cent to 31 per cent, while the remainder were renters.

Similarly, a 2018 Grattan Institute report indicated 72 per cent of Australians aged 55-64, owned their home outright in 1995.

By 2015 to 2016, this figure had fallen to 42 per cent. It is unclear whether these figures have remained stable or worsened, which will be confirmed when the latest Census data is released.

This data indicated more 60 and 70-somethings were stuck with mortgage commitments, with the REIA data suggesting these retirees were not able or comfortable to sell their current home.

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