After downsizing, ‘lifestyle reasons’ were the second driver for selling. Only in London did sellers indicate a desire to upsize, with a need for more space the primary reason for moving.
Seven in ten of those who intended to sell in 2013 were over 45, according to the survey, while half planning to buy will do so for at least the third time.
Rightmove director Miles Shipside said: “Those who bought thirty to forty years ago reaped the rewards of several price booms and many are now of an age where they wish to downsize, release equity and reduce their outgoings.
“These make up the largest group of intending sellers and, in many instances, they have the advantage of being cash buyers.
“With increased life expectancy they face the challenge of supporting themselves financially for longer than previous generations, but have the head start of multiple-level return on their original investment in property.”
Sellers also had high expectations – the average property asking price in mid-January to mid-February was £235,741, the highest for this month since 2008.
PPR Estates director Nick Hopkinson said home ownership was increasingly the preserve of equity-rich pensioners: “Realistically, renting remains the only option for the foreseeable future for all but the richest aspiring homeowners under 50.
“It is difficult to see how mortgage affordability can improve any further without a return to the type of speculative lending that led to the Credit Crunch in the first place.”
Legal & General Mortgage Club managing director Ben Thompson said the major factor in a relatively slow recovery rate was a combination of shaken consumer confidence and on-going restrictions from lenders on borrowing: “There is still a lack of products available to many first time buyers and although many lenders are now consciously improving and loosening lending criteria, this isn’t something that can be transformed overnight and will take time to feed through.
“We are moving in the right direction but all indicators point to full recovery being a fairly long process.”