Those retiring in 2020 own property worth more than £142.5bn, with an average of £388,900 each, according to the research by equity release adviser Key.

Key’s research suggests that one in three plan to use this equity as part of their retirement planning.

This follows research from the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) around how financially prepared over-50s are in light of Pensions Awareness Day.

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Key: Over-65s hold £1.124tr in mortgage-free property wealth

Will Hale, chief executive at Key, said: “Planning for a life event which could be more than 25-years away and mean different things to different people is daunting so the over-50s might be excused for taking their time – particularly given the current economic uncertainty.

“That said, events such as Pension Awareness Day can help by highlighting issues and concentrating minds on the need to prepare as even taking small steps early in your journey towards retirement can pay dividends.

“While building up state, workplace and personal pension pots is obviously a good way to prepare for retirement, over-50s need to consider how all their assets can support their aspirations for later life.

“Whether they are downsizing to realise cash, re-mortgaging to a better deal or taking out equity release it is clear that property is playing a bigger role in how people look to manage their finances in later life.

“Working with a financial adviser can make a massive difference in being as retirement ready as possible and getting specialist advice on later life lending options is crucial to ensuring people make the best use of their property wealth.”

The research by MaPS showed that over a third (37%) of over-50s are leaving their retirement financial plans until their final two years before retirement or won’t prepare at all.

The economic downturn and effects of COVID-19 are impacting the finances of one in three 50-70 year olds according to the research, with only 7% of over-50s feeling fully prepared with their retirement finances.

Carolyn Jones, head of pensions policy and strategy at MaPS, said:  “Given over a third of over-50s have had their finances affected by COVID-19 and we’re now facing a recession, we’re urging people not to delay or skip planning their retirement finances – whether you’re thinking of retiring later or bringing it forward.

“Your pension is likely to be one of the most valuable assets you hold so it’s really important to start planning early to make sure you make the best choices based on your circumstances.

“Getting help and talking through your options now could be the difference between having a comfortable retirement, or having to work for longer or adjust to living on a lower income.

“We know that taking pensions guidance works. People who have had an appointment with our Pension Wise specialists feel more confident, informed and prepared when it comes to how they will access their pension savings.

“In 2019/20, more than half of appointment customers said that getting guidance either changed how they accessed their pension, or how they intend to do so.”

David Hannah, principle consultant and founder of Cornerstone Tax, emphasises how property can be a key part of a pension: “Property investments with pension schemes has long been an effective way to maximise your pension value for when you do eventually retire. 

“The complex rules around these transfers, however, can put people off or even result in overpayments of certain stamps taxes, resulting in reduced pension value. 

“Getting this right is of paramount importance for individuals planning for their retirement.

“We have found errors, for example, in the stamp duty paid when transferring commercial property from a partnership to a SIPP or SSAS pension meaning that business owners in many cases have overpaid and lost out on investment returns as a result.” 

Daniela Wilson, pensions guider at Pension Wise, added: “I discuss pension options with the public every day and one of the most common worries is feeling unprepared when it comes to making decisions with pension providers.

“Chatting through the different options for as little as 45 minutes has made nine in 10 of our customers (92%) feel well prepared ahead of speaking to their providers.

“This small commitment of time to talk through options can help with general wellbeing as well as aiding decision making when it comes to accessing their pension pots.”