Extract from Resolution Foundation – 15June 2019

Additional property wealth is a big deal in Britain today. One-in-nine adults own some, and its combined value is almost £1 trillion. By value, it makes up one-sixth of all property wealth. Game of Homes looks at who owns multiple properties, the reasons for holding them, and the implications for the living standards of different generations and income groups.

Additional property wealth was worth £941bn in 2014-16, the latest data available. 5.5 million adults, or 11.2 per cent of the population, owned multiple properties.

The biggest component of additional property wealth is buy-to-let houses, owned by 1.9 million people. The number of buy-to-let mortgages has risen 15 times since 2000.

Despite younger generations being less likely to own homes than their predecessors, if they do own a home then they are more likely to own several of them. 37 per cent of people born in the 1980s owned property wealth at age 29, compared to 50 per cent of people born in the 1960s. By contrast, the 1980s cohort reached the same rate of additional property ownership as those born in the 1960s by the age of 29, with 7 per cent of adults holding it in both cases.

Three major reasons for owning additional property are to provide income, to give security in retirement, and to pass on wealth to younger relatives. Today 52 per cent of all rental income is received by baby boomers, with 25 per cent received by generation X. 10.8 per cent of working-age people plan to used income from additional property to help fund their retirement, though it is a complement to rather than a replacement for these people’s pensions, as their pension wealth is at least as large as the wider population.

Policy makers have made progress in recent years in changing the tax reliefs and other incentives available for people who own multiple properties. It is too early to know definitively, but it appears that these changes have halted the growth of the buy-to-let sector. That said, there remain several challenges for policy makers to consider, to rebalance the housing market more towards first-time buyers and to think more broadly about how housing is taxed fairly and efficiently.

 

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