Over-55s Hold More Wealth In Their Homes Than The GDP Of Italy

  • Housing wealth of over-55s in England currently totals £1.5 trillion, greater than Italy’s GDP which stands at £1.4 trillion
  • Population of over-55s in England to grow by a third over next two decades; total housing wealth to grow 97% over the same period
  • £2.9 trillion locked-up in over-55s’ property in 20 years’ time

Striking research has revealed that over-55s in England have more wealth locked-away in their homes than the entire GDP of Italy.

The research commissioned by retirement income specialist Age Partnership*, highlights that homeowners in England aged 55 and over currently own £1.5 trillion worth of property, £0.1 trillion more than Italy’s GDP.

With the average cost of a house in England currently standing at £229,383 and 6.3 million over-55s owning their home outright, the £1.5 trillion figure puts English over 55’s as some of the most property rich in the world. The GDP figures released by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) latest estimates, also highlight that our over 55s are above Brazil and Spain for property wealth by £0.3 trillion and £0.6 trillion respectively. With the number of over 55s in England ever increasing, this substantial figure looks set to grow further.

Table 1: Comparison between over-55s’ housing wealth in England and GDP of different countries (trillions)

United States GDP £13.9
China GDP £8.5
Japan £3.3
Germany GDP £2.6
UK GDP £2.1
France GDP £1.8
Housing wealth of over-55s in England £1.5
Italy GDP £1.4
Brazil GDP £1.2
Spain GDP £0.9

Source: IMF, Age Partnership

£2.9 trillion to be locked up in over-55s’ property in 20 years’ time

The research also shows the long term growth pattern of over 55s property wealth, with the forecasted figure for 20 years’ time standing at £2.9 trillion in England alone.

The 20 year forecast is calculated using a modest annual house price increase of 2% and also takes into account the number of over 55s in England increasing by £5.3m between 2016 and 2036. Even without any house price inflation, demographic changes alone would take the total housing wealth of over 55s in England to £1.9 trillion over the same time period.

Table 2: Forecast growth in the property wealth of over 55s over the next 20 years

2016 2026 2036
Number of over-55s in England owning their home outright 6,392,984 7,698,578 8,494,517
% growth since 2016 20% 33%
Total property wealth assuming 0% HPI £1.466tn £1.796tn £1.948tn
% growth since 2016 23% 33%
Total property wealth assuming 2% HPI £1.466tn £2.153tn £2.895tn
% growth since 2016 47% 97%

Methodology included in footnote

Over-55 population set grow by a third over next twenty years

As the large baby-boomers generation is expected to live longer the number of people aged 55 or older in England is expected to rise from 16.2 million to 21.5 million by 2036. Many within this generation are owner occupiers who have benefitted from house price inflation and over a third of English over-55s (39%) currently own their home with no outstanding mortgage.

In addition to the figures within this research, there are many over 55s who don’t yet own their home outright but have significant wealth held in their properties – meaning the £1.5 trillion figure is actually a conservative estimate.

Graph 1: Population forecast for over-55s (billions)

Substantial figures like this highlight the increasing need to factor the cash locked-up in property into retirement planning. As the debate continues between leading figures at the Bank of England and the FCA into equity release as a means of funding retirement, it remains a viable option to access tax-free cash for many over 55s who are cash poor but property rich.

Simon Chalk, equity release expert at Age Partnership, comments: “A small fortune is locked away in the houses owned by the older generation in England. The total property wealth of over-55s is already in the trillions – it even tops the GDP of Italy. This stored wealth cannot be ignored: housing must become a primary part of retirement financial planning and we need to open up more channels to help over-55s benefit from it.

“Over the next 20 years housing wealth will become increasingly important, as the baby-boomers generation reach retirement en-masse. We are forecasting that with only modest growth to property values, £2.9 trillion will be held in property wealth in England in two decades time – these sort of figures just can’t be ignored.

“Pensions will continue to cause a headache as the population ages. Adding property wealth to the mix could help alleviate that pressure. Equity release is already taking a starring role as it provides an alternative to downsizing but still enables over-55s to release cash from their homes.

“The FCA’s recent manoeuvre to relax the rules for providers who offer innovative lifetime products is a really positive step forward in recognising the importance of the equity release market and acknowledging the increasing consumer demand. As people continue to look for new ways to access their existing cash and assets as they reach retirement, keeping ahead of the curve will allow a more efficient and transparent process for all those involved.”

– – – ENDS – – –

Notes to editors


Age Partnership’s property wealth forecast is based only on over 55 households where the property is owned outright (i.e. without a mortgage). It is based on:

  • ONS population forecasts for England between 2012 and 2037
  • English Housing Survey data on the number of people who own their home outright
  • Land Registry data on current average house prices

** IMF GDP estimates, 2016

For further information, please contact:

Louis Auty, Instinctif Partners on: 020 7427 1442 / Louis.Auty@instinctif.com

Tora Turton, Instinctif Partners on: 020 7427 1445 / Tora.Turton@instinctif.com

Angeli Everitt, Instinctif Partners on: 020 7427 1446 / Angeli.Everitt@instinctif.com

About Age Partnership:

Age Partnership is a retirement income specialist, and provides high quality guidance and independent advice to people approaching, at or in retirement. Its service is suitable for a broad range of UK consumers.

Age Partnership ensures it delivers exceptional service standards to customers by taking the time to understand their goals and having the expertise to ensure they get the most out of what they have.

  • Its service is highly rated by its customers on over 2,500 independent reviews on Trust Pilot.
  • Age Partnership ensures its staff offer industry-leading levels of expertise by providing an in-house training scheme to its staff through its Partnership Academy.
  • Age Partnership makes everything as simple and as easy to understand as possible for customers. Age Partnership has received the Plain English Campaign’s ‘Crystal Mark’ for the clarity of its customer literature.
  • As a regulated company Age Partnership make all potential customers aware that: Equity release may involve a lifetime mortgage or home reversion plan. To understand the features and risks ask for a personalised Illustration. In addition they encourage anyone thinking about releasing equity from their home to speak to an advisor to ensure that they understand what impact equity release could have on their entitlement to means-tested benefits now or in the future and the size of their estate.

Age Partnership Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. FCA Register Number 425432. Age Partnership Ltd, 2200 Century Way, Thorpe Park, Leeds LS15 8ZB.