In the period from April 2018 to March 2020, a quarter (25%) of respondents said investing in property would be the safest way to provide funds for retirement, according to preliminary data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). 

This is a drop from the 29% overall who believed in property investing as the safest method when the survey last took place up to March 2018.

The proportion rose to 28% among 35 to 44 year-olds and dropped to 21% among 16 to 24 year-olds.

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Those in the East of England (32%) and London (30%) were most likely to prioritise property investing.

In terms of employment status, the self-employed were most likely to invest in property ahead of their retirement at 38%; this was also the top option for this group, over personal pension (19%), ISA (10%) and savings accounts (5%), among others.

While 52% of employees would rely on their employer pension, a further 23% would look to property investment, more than would a personal pension (10%) or ISA (7%)

The largest proportion of respondents (43%) said property investing was the option likely to yield the most money, above employer pensions (27%) and far outstripping all other options.

Among the self-employed, property was again the most popular option when considering what would make the most money for retirement, at 53%, compared to 42% of employees and 39% of students.

23% of Brits felt that downsizing would be key to providing funds for retirement, while 10% cited selling or renting out another property

Helen Morrissey, pension specialist at Royal London, said: “The self-employed continue to see property as the safest way to prepare for their retirement – outstripping pensions by some distance.

“While property has its place in a retirement planning strategy care must be taken not to be overly reliant on any one asset as if prices fall then retirement plans can unravel.

“Boosting pension participation among this group is vital and yet they remain frozen out of auto-enrolment – a policy that has boosted the retirement prospects of millions.

“This is something government must review urgently.”