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Britain is still a nation that wants to be home owners, new survey shows

The majority of British people still want to own a home and they aspire to having their own property not purely for financial reasons, new research has found.

Some 72% of adults want to be home owners in two years’ time and 80% hope to own in 10 years’ time which is broadly in line with the 30 year average sentiment, according to the research from the Council of Mortgage Lenders as part of its long running series on attitudes to housing.

But the report by CML chief economist Bob Pannell, based on a survey undertaken on behalf of the CML by YouGov, also reveals some less predictable findings. These include how people perceive part ownership, and who they think should be helping young people who face affordability hurdles.

In particular, the research confirms that partial home ownership through shared ownership or shared equity is regarded as a good idea by around half of all respondents, around five times the proportion who see it as a bad idea.

Indeed, more people see part ownership as a stepping stone to full ownership than as a permanent tenure in its own right and in addition, a majority of people regardless of their own circumstances feel that it is harder than it has ever been for young people to buy their own home. If those who believe it is very difficult are included, the proportion rises to 85%.

Overall 75% believe action is necessary to help first time buyers. Predominantly, people see the Government as having a responsibility, but mortgage lenders, house builders and local authorities are also widely regarded as having a role.

In terms of the specific measures favoured by those advocating action, special incentives to save for deposits were favoured by more than half and topped the list, closely followed by introducing subsidies for all first time buyers. Over a third favoured the measures of abolishing stamp duty, reintroducing mortgage interest tax relief, and requiring developers to discount prices of some new homes, among others.

According to CML director general Paul Smee the findings give rise to some searching questions for the industry and Government, not least, how far it is possible to balance the tension between aspiration and achievability, which continues to be a feature of the UK’s relationship with home ownership and whether tenure neutrality should be the ultimate policy aspiration.

The research also found that people see the value of home ownership as not purely financial. In fact, the two most popular reasons for valuing home ownership are seen as having the freedom to do what you want, and knowing that once the mortgage is repaid, the property is yours. Seeing the property as an investment or an asset, or a mortgage as cheaper than renting, are cited less strongly.

Virtually no existing home owners wish to have a different tenure in the future and private tenants generally appear to view their position as a temporary state. Some 56% of private renters would like to own within the next two years and 71% aspire to own within 10 years. Only 26% of existing private tenants would prefer to be renting in two years’ time, and 15% in 10 years’ time. However, sentiment is not the same among social tenants as 57% of social tenants still want to be living in social housing in two years’ time, and 46% in 10 years’ time.

Among those who want to be home owners but are not currently, there is a substantial majority who do not feel confident that they will achieve that aspiration. Less than a quarter of those who are not currently home owners, but want to be in two years’ time, believe it is likely.

The disparity between hope and expectation is particularly marked among younger age groups as fewer than half of those aged 18 to 24 who want to be home owners in 10 years think it likely that they actually will be.