Europeans downbeat on owning homes

AP
Nearly half of Europeans who do not own their own home have given up hope of ever doing so, with pessimism highest among Britons and Germans, a survey showed on Tuesday.
AP

Nearly half of Europeans who do not own their own home have given up hope of ever doing so, with pessimism highest among Britons and Germans, the results of a survey showed on Tuesday.

The poll by Dutch bank ING found 48 percent of respondents in 13 European countries who did not own their own home said they probably never would.

And it mattered to most of them. Sixty-five percent of the non-homeowners said they considered owning their own place to be a symbol of success, suggesting that buying is not just a financial decision.

Poles (72 percent), Turks (70 percent) and Romanians (70 percent) topped the list of those judging homeownership as a sign of success.

Ian Bright, senior economist at ING, said the survey findings suggested many people might become disenchanted with their lot.

“Most people want to buy a house. Yet many now accept that they are unlikely to buy,” he said.

“If you combine this with our findings that a higher proportion of homeowners are happy with their housing situation, compared with renters, then it seems that more people will feel incredibly frustrated with their housing choices in the future.”

The survey made no reference to politics, but several European elections in the past years have shown a rising anger among voters at what is perceived as a growing gap between the haves and have-nots.

Hopes for being able to afford to buy a home, for example, were lowest in Britain and Germany, where about 56 percent of non-homeowners in both countries believed they would never be able to buy.

In what were seen as at the very least snubs to the status quo, Britons last year voted to leave the EU, and Germans this year put a far-right party into the Bundestag for the first time in half a century.

House prices have long been out of reach for many in Britain and even with uncertainty over Brexit, data on Tuesday showed prices picking up speed last month.

In Germany, though relatively cheap compared with other European countries in the past, house prices have risen sharply in recent years, partly as record low European Central Bank rates have encouraged households to take on debt.

Average real estate prices in cities including Berlin, Hamburg, Munich and Frankfurt have increased by more than 60 percent since 2010, the Bundesbank estimated.


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