Global: Who does – and doesn’t – want to own a home?

Christien PhebySenior Business Journalist
June 29, 2021, 3:10 PM GMT+0

YouGov Profiles data shows that, among people who don’t currently own a home, three quarters (76%) want to

Home ownership is often seen as the holy grail of domesticity: it’s an asset, a milestone, and a route out of filling up some faceless landlord’s bank account at the expense of your own. But it also comes with its own costs and burdens: when the water heater is broken, the kitchen needs refitting, and no toilet in the house will flush properly, the benefits of having a place to call your own can seem remote indeed.

Across all 17 markets featured in our study, just over half (53%) own their own house. Home ownership is highest in Singapore (65%) and Sweden (63%), and lowest in Germany (34%) and the UAE (32%), but in most of these countries, regions or areas, it’s more common to own your home than not.

When it comes to people who don’t own their own home, most want to: three-quarters (76%) say they want to have their own property in future, while 15% do not.

The dream of home ownership is especially potent in Indonesia (95%) and Mexico (94%); in both markets, just 2% do not aspire to have their own house someday. In other markets, it’s a more mixed story. People who don’t have property generally aspire to it – but the degree varies heavily, especially within Europe. While 84% of Spaniards want to own their own home, this falls to just two-thirds of Danes (66%), three in five French people (62%), and less than half of Germans (48%).

Germans are, by some distance, the group most likely to eschew home ownership: two in five (42%) say they have no intention of buying property. This may be due to the country’s anomalous housing policies, including higher real estate taxes, wide access to social housing, and a lack of mortgage interest deductions for owner-occupiers.

So while Germany is an outlier, it is also an example of a country where housing policy has given people more reason to rent and less reason to want a house of their own. While there are sentimental reasons to buy a house, it’s also a practical decision influenced by the benefits accorded to homeowners by society. When those benefits don’t exist, interest in owning a house may drop significantly.

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