Should empty-nesters be encouraged to move to smaller homes ?

Smart Money: Majority of Irish people live in homes too large for their needs

Should those living in large houses after their children leave  be encouraged by the State to trade down? Photograph: iStock

Should those living in large houses after their children leave be encouraged by the State to trade down? Photograph: iStock

There are few more emotive subjects in Ireland than the “family home”. And we do seem to live in bigger homes than the average. A European Commission survey published this week,estimating that seven out of 10 Irish people live in houses which have too many rooms for their needs – under-occupied households in the jargon – with the percentage rising for older households. It again raises the controversial question about whether “empty-nesters” – those living in large houses after their children leave – should be encouraged by the State to trade down to smaller properties to increase supply in the market.

1. The figures

Home ownership trends vary across the EU. The European Commission figures do show that the Republic is a notable outlier,with on average 2.1 rooms in our houses for every one person, compared to an EU average of 1.6 rooms.

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