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We hear a lot about first time buyers but what about the last time buyers?

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Following the recent proposals for the Help to Buy ISA scheme, the media has focused in on first time buyers. It is clear that the government’s commitment to housing lies with giving young people a leg up onto the property ladder. But, whilst ensuring first time buyers are able to access a housing market that is currently beyond their reach, it is vital that we do not forget older people – the last time buyers.

As it is, England’s housing market is ill-equipped to cope with an ageing population. But with the population of 85’s set to increase by a third over the next ten years, it is essential that we can provide affordable and suitable housing solutions for our older citizens.

One option for older buyers is the Older Person Shared Ownership (OPSO) scheme. Its status as shared ownership means that those eligible for the scheme can part own a property and pay rent on the remainder, which is owned by a housing association. Designed specifically for over 55’s, this scheme is aimed at prospective buyers who cannot afford to pay the market price on a new property.

Many older people are wary, and understandably so, of moving into property that is built specifically for the elderly. It can conjure negative images associated with a loss of independence, something that pensioners are keener than ever to hold on to as our life spans lengthen.

This is why we need a new approach:  affordable housing designed specifically for the senior citizen but which is flexible and doesn’t patronise. Instead, these developments should hand over power to the home owner; the power to decide how much they wish to own of their property, and the power to control the level of support they wish to receive in keeping with their changing needs.


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Written by Catherine Corkish | Posted on 29th April 2015

Catherine Corkish is Sales and New Business Negotiator at Riverside Home Ownership. Riverside is one of the leading registered providers of social housing in the UK, providing support and affordable housing to people of all ages and circumstances throughout England.