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Aging in place is emerging as a dominant preference globally

New data released this week by New Zealand-based Heartland Group indicates that 89.9% of surveyed older adults wish to remain in their homes as long as possible. The data further galvanizes a growing global preference for aging in place, as also recently indicated in survey data emerging from the United Kingdom, the European Union and the United States.

The new survey results, initially conducted in 2021 by Heartland Bank and which consisted of approximately 2,000 respondents at or over the age of 50, asked for their thoughts on homeownership, retirement, national pensions, reverse mortgages and other relevant topics. The results increasingly point to a preference for aging in place over relocation into a dedicated senior living facility or even moving in with family.

“We’ve been seeing anecdotal evidence for years that our customers are wanting to retire in the comfort of their own home,” explains Heartland’s general manager of reverse mortgages, Andrew Ford. “This survey has confirmed that aging from home is becoming a more popular option, despite the challenges that can come with it for people who have the majority of their wealth locked up in their property.”

A small share of respondents — 12.3% — feel that the New Zealand Superannuation Fund will be enough to support them in retirement. The purpose of the Fund (or “NZ Super” as it’s called) is to partially pre-fund the future cost of the New Zealand Superannuation pension, which is expected to increase as a result of New Zealand’s aging population.

Late last year, European equity release professionals similarly related growing interest in equity release instruments stemming from an increased desire to age in place among British and European seniors.

The trajectory of uptake for equity release products in the U.K. – sometimes referred to as “lifetime mortgages” or “retirement mortgages” in Europe – is visibly on an upswing, and it’s the hope of the industry in the U.K. and for members of the European Pensions and Property Asset Release Group (EPPARG) to expand what has been seen to more of the territory according to professionals who spoke at the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association (NRMLA) Virtual Annual Meeting in November, 2021.

Other recent data shows an increase in the aging-in-place preference of American seniors. An overwhelming majority of surveyed seniors revealed that they would prefer to age in place in their current home, as opposed to moving into some kind of an assisted living facility according to “Importance of Home” survey results released in October by American Advisors Group (AAG), the leading reverse mortgage lender in the United States based on industry endorsement data.

In addition to the desire to remain in their homes as they age, 73% of respondents also answered that they see their homes as “their most valuable asset,” while 82% of respondents answered affirmatively when asked if they would prefer to live in their home for the rest of their lives if such an option was on the table.

See an infographic of the Heartland survey results.