Half of renters in Europe may never buy a home

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7 November 2017

Nearly half of renters and non-home owners in Europe believe they will never be able to afford to buy a home, even though buying a house is considered a smart money decision and owning a home is preferred over renting.

The ING International Survey Homes and Mortgages 2017 – Renting versus Owning report surveyed almost 15,000 people in 15 countries, including Australia and the USA.

Seventy-percent of Europeans are still happy with their homes – but renters less so (78% home owners versus 59% non-owners). Three in five would like to own their home, while only one in 10 would prefer to rent.

“Most people want to buy a house. Their reasons for doing this extend well beyond money, such as security and the freedom to decorate it how they like. Yet many now accept that they are unlikely to buy,” said ING senior economist Ian Bright.

Unfulfilled ambitions

While a home is both a shelter and a financial decision, for many people, buying one is the biggest money decision they will ever make.

However, 48% of renters and non-owners are concerned whether they will ever be able to afford to buy a home. The European high is in the UK, where 56% of respondents agree they will probably never be able to afford to buy a home. The survey high is 62% in Australia.

Breaking this down by age and gender, more than half of the 35+ non-owners believe they will never afford a home – rising to 68% among the over 65s. Men of all ages are less likely than women to say they will never buy.

IIS-Infographic_Renting vs Owning

A smart money decision

Home prices continue to rise in many countries, yet nearly 70% of the respondents in Europe, the USA and Australia equate buying a home with a smart money decision.

A large number of people believe that “everyone would buy if they could afford to’’ – even in Germany (58%), which is often said to be a nation of renters. Renting, however, might be preferred in certain circumstances, such as when greater flexibility is needed or the regulation in the country is favourable.

The results of the survey confirm that home ownership is seen in many cultures as a status symbol, often representing a considerable monetary achievement. Across Europe, 65% of the people equate buying a home with a symbol of success. The number of people who agree with this statement is the largest in Poland, Turkey and Romania, with Italy and the USA following close. The Dutch are least likely to agree.

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