Estate agents are reporting a surge in inquiries from home owners looking to downsize but they are struggling to find homes for them to move to, new research suggests.

Overall 44% of estate agents have seen a rise in inquiries from older home owners looking to downsize in the past year, according to a report from Key Partnerships.

However 62% of estate agents say that would-be downsizers have unrealistic expectations about how much they will raise from moving to a cheaper home and that’s if they can find one.

More than half, 56%, of estate agents say there is a shortage of homes on the market suitable for downsizers and 68% warn there are not enough homes available for older buyers who are less mobile.

‘When downsizing works it can be an ideal solution for older homeowners but sellers need to be realistic about how much they are going to make and it appears many are struggling to find suitable homes,’ said Will Hale, director at Key Partnerships.

The shortage of homes for sale is pushing up prices for downsizers who may struggle to raise the sort of money they are expecting to help with retirement planning while also having to go through the upheaval of moving home,’ he explained.

He believes that equity release should be part of all conversations with older home owners considering downsizing, when for many it simply doesn’t add up. ‘Estate agents who can offer equity release as a potential alternative are able to benefit from an additional revenue stream by referring potential clients to a specialist,’ he added.

Key’s study found on average 16% of estate agents’ clients who were looking to downsize have given up or failed to find a new house in the past two years.

• Propertywire