Research suggests more people in Europe are finding home prices too high

Confidence in European housing market has hit a plateau at a time when unaffordable prices are forcing people to live with parents or put off having children, according to new research.

Overall some 56% of people in Europe expect house prices to rise in the next 12 months and as a result 33% are delaying important life decisions, the homes and mortgages 2016 report from ING suggests.

But a breakdown of the survey data covering 15 countries shows that there are vast shifts in outlook across Europe and the most dramatic shift has been in the UK, where expectations of rising house prices fell by 13% prior to the referendum on its future in the European Union.

Following the Brexit vote the question was repeated and the number who expect house prices to fall grew 16%. It means that 46% of people in the UK now believe house prices will rise in the next year, the lowest proportion since the first survey was conducted in 2012.

Falling interest rates are one factor that can typically influence house prices. Across Europe, Luxembourg at 28% and the UK at 26% have the largest share of people who report that low interest rates have pushed up house prices where they live.

However, in all but two of the countries included in the study, when asked how the fall in rates has affected house prices where they live, some 39% of respondents say they ‘do not know’, indicating that few actually understand the effect on house prices.
Unaffordable housing is having an impact across Europe. Some 60% of people find that house prices where they live are expensive and 33% are putting their lives on hold as a result. Those affected admit to putting the brakes on their futures, with 29% being forced to live with others, 22% saying they feel trapped in their current jobs and 16% delaying having children.
High house prices are resulting in 24% of people finding it difficult to pay their mortgage each month, reaching highs of 41% in Poland and 40% in Romania.
As a coping mechanism, some 46% are compromising on their housing choices whether they rent or own their home. Of those who have compromised and are unhappy with their situation 39% moved to areas they do not like as much and 39% settled for a smaller home while 37% of those who are unhappy with their housing today say they opted for houses in poor condition.
Despite these challenges, 46% want to buy a house in the near future and are willing to make the necessary sacrifices in order to call their place their own. Some 41% of people in Europe admit to curtailing spending a lot in order to buy, although this proportion rises to a survey high of 60% in Turkey.
The difficulties facing buyers have also led to a reliance on the Bank of Mum and Dad, with 47% of people saying parents should support their children financially to get on the housing ladder. The reality is somewhat different, with just 9% of buyers currently saving for a home actually receiving help from friends or family.
‘Across Europe, expectations that house prices will rise has hit a plateau, but people are still finding that the house prices where they live are expensive. It’s worrying that this is increasingly leading them to delay important life decisions, such as postponing retirement, changing jobs or having more children,’ said Ian Bright, senior economist at ING.

‘Even more concerning is the realisation that most do not expect this situation to change because most people expect house prices to keep rising. This is a Europe wide problem and not restricted to one or two countries,’ he added.


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