National Seniors better housing campaign will work to improve housing options for you and other older Australians.
A key focus of the campaign is on improving options to enable you to downsize should you need to.
Downsizing is not necessarily about having a smaller home but about finding a home that is more suited to your needs.
As you get older, you may need a new home that:
- is easier to take care of
- is closer to your family or services
- provides access to different lifestyle options, or
- is simply safer or easier.
Unfortunately, there are many barriers to downsizing.
If you sell your home and move into another, any money you make will be counted as part of the Age Pension means test. This might put you off moving to a home that suits you better.
Stamp duty can also be a big issue when buying your new home. National Seniors has fought hard for stamp duty concessions over the years. Stamp duty concessions for seniors are currently available in the Australian Capital Territory, Victoria, Northern Territory and now Tasmania. But not in Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and New South Wales.
Most new housing is not being built to a standard that makes it suitable for you when you get older. Less than five per cent of all new housing is being built to a minimum standard of accessibility.
Planning laws don’t encourage new housing options that might help you as you get older. Your choice is often limited to large detached housing or high-rise apartments.
If better housing is an issue important to you, sign up to the campaign below to get regular updates.
You can also help by becoming a National Seniors member.
National Seniors research found that 36 per cent of people aged 50 and over live in a home that is not suitable for them as they age and that only 38 per cent of older people have taken steps to prepare themselves for getting older1.
More recent research shows that a high proportion of people (42.1 per cent) have no intention to move or downsize from their family home.
This research has shown that older people who choose to remain in their home, even if it is unsuitable to their needs, are often influenced by financial concerns.
Almost one-quarter of people planning to stay cited the impact of downsizing on the Age Pension, cost of stamp duty and general cost of moving as factors which discourage them from downsizing2.
Stamp duty is clearly a disincentive to downsizing. One that discourages older people from moving into a home that is more suitable to their needs as the age.
Which states don’t offer seniors a stamp duty concession?
Seniors in Victoria, the Northern Territory, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and Tasmania are already eligible for a stamp duty concession to assist them to downsize their home.
Seniors in the remaining states, Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia should have access to a concession to bring them into line with the other states and territories.
National Seniors believes a concession for stamp duty for Pensioner Concession Card and Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders in the remaining mainland states will increase the appeal of downsizing.
How should it work?
The concession shouldn’t be restricted to new dwellings, however there should be a sliding scale applied to the concession, as is done in the ACT to ensure the policy is targeted at those most in need.
This will assist those who are reluctant to downsize due to associated costs and provide the opportunity to relocate to more suitable accommodation.
It would have a flow on effect of allowing a more efficient use of housing stock, with more larger houses available for young growing families. It will also likely help people to stay in their own homes and out of aged care, as most wish.
Including vacant land in the concession will encourage seniors to build new homes, stimulating the economy and increasing the supply of housing incorporating accessible design features.
How can you help?
We’ll continue to advocate for this through our representations to governments in Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and New South Wales, which do not currently offer stamp duty relief to seniors.
You can show your support by joining the campaign.
You can also help by becoming a member.
1National Seniors 2012. Where will I live as I age? Senior Australians’ needs and concerns about future housing and living arrangements. Brisbane: National Seniors.
2Rees, K. & McCallum, J. 2017. Downsizing: Movers, planners, stayers. Brisbane: National Seniors.
Home sweet home
Older people should not be forced to downsize if they don’t want to.
For many older Australians, their home is their biggest asset.
In 2017, a National Seniors Australia and Challenger research report found 84 per cent of retirees owned their own home. But a third of retirees only had assets (outside their home) of less than $200,000.
The family home is more than just a store of wealth. It connects older people with family, friends and community. It contributes to health and wellbeing.
For these reasons, we opposed to including the family home in the pension means test.