Although many people in the UK view property as an alternative to a pension, this way of thinking is not only misleading but if adopted widely, it could damage people's ability to support their lifestyle in retirement.
A recent ONS survey found that 41% of people consider workplace pensions the safest way to save for retirement, with 28% of people believing that property investment was the most secure way.
Whilst property can provide an income as well as a potential increase in value, there are a few disadvantages to it being an alternative strategy to a pension when looking to support financial security in retirement:
- For most people, their home will be a significant proportion of their total wealth. Adding more property into the mix is likely to add a disproportionate level of dependency on that one type of investment for most people's risk attitude
- With a workplace pension the employer and the tax man (via tax relief) makes a contribution to an individual's pension pot. This doesn't happen with a property
- When taking a pension there are now wide freedoms and it can be taken in whatever shape and timeframe an individual wants or needs. A property generally doesn't guarantee 100% occupancy and so its income will be variable - which is not ideal if this is to be relied on to fund retirement
- In addition, if a lump sum of money is required, say to fund a wedding, a pension can now easily accommodate this but selling one room of a property is not feasible and so it doesn't give the same flexibility
The competition between ISAs, buy-to-let properties and pensions products has never been fiercer. New freedoms mean that people are looking to the retail world to hold their cash post-retirement and many people now believe: “my property is my pension”.In fact, the latest ONS data shows that almost 45% of us see a property as the best retirement investment, followed by a quarter who think it’s a pension.