Housing Equity Withdrawal in mid-to-late life: Patterns and Motivations amongst Australian Homeowners
In an era of population ageing, the primary home is increasingly viewed as a personal resource that can perform a pension role in retirement. This paper assesses the extent to which Australians aged over 45 utilise housing equity withdrawal (HEW) through the three methods of in situ mortgage equity withdrawal, downsizing and selling up. We find that the incidence of HEW has increased over the last decade despite a global financial crisis. Mortgage equity withdrawal is the dominant form of equity release among those under pension age, while downsizing or selling up is relatively more frequent among those above pension age. Different motivations are associated with the decision to invoke alternative styles of equity withdrawal. Mortgage equity withdrawal is linked with financial and employment factors while downsizing and selling up seems to be prompted by adverse life events. Selling up to access equity is typically an option of last resort. Our findings offer insights into important debates around home ownership societies and the welfare role performed by owner-occupied housing in mid-to-late life.