A new research report was released by the Productivity Commission in December 2015, concerning the housing decisions of older Australians. It examines the policies affecting the supply and cost of age specific housing, the influence of the tax and transfer system on housing decisions, and the issues in using home equity release to support living standards in retirement. The Commission drew on evidence from a survey of older Australians.

The research shows that an increasing proportion of older Australians are looking to move into homes that are more suitable to their needs. These may be either in the private market or in age specific accommodation such as retirement villages.

15 per cent of older Australians expect to downsize to a more suitable dwelling or age-specific housing. State and local planning systems remain the most significant barrier to the supply of innovative and affordable housing options.

While most older Australians are home owners, older renters are a significant and vulnerable minority. They are more likely to be experiencing housing stress and have insecure tenure. The support available through social housing and Commonwealth Rent Assistance is inadequate.

This highlights the imperative of further and comprehensive focus on retirement income policy and housing affordability for low income households, reviews which would have benefits for older Australians, as well as the broader community.

For others, age-specific housing options provide more integrated accommodation and care, offer a way to release home equity, and may delay entry into residential aged care.

Growth in retirement villages and manufactured home estates has been strong, despite planning restrictions.

About 15 per cent of older Australians are renters, and these people are generally a highly vulnerable and economically disadvantaged group.

There is a general lack of affordable downsizing options for older Australians, due in large part to the red tape and inconsistencies within state and territory land planning regimes.

Residential aged care is effectively transforming into an end of life care service. The age of admission is increasing (now 83 years on average), average tenure is about 2 to 3 years, and care needs are higher.

Link to read more and download the report:

Housing Decisions of Older Australians.