61 percent of Europeans are homeowners

Europeans spend 40 percent of their income on a home to live in and believe that housing is becoming even more expensive. Six out of ten live with their partner, whilst 39 percent live with one or several children. Only 15 percent of Europeans live on their own, according to a recent survey by RE/MAX Europe, the number one and fastest growing real estate franchising network in Europe.

A representative study on housing conditions and the cost of living by RE/MAX Europe, conducted in 16 European countries, reveals that 61 percent of Europeans own the property they live in. More than one-third of those questioned state that they live in an owned house, with 25 percent living in an owned apartment. The majority of homeowners can be found in the UK, the Netherlands and Italy. Meanwhile, people in Switzerland, Germany and Austria prefer to rent. On average, 40 percent of household net income is spent on housing, including rent or mortgages and operating costs. However, there are differences between tenants and homeowners: those who rent tend to spend more money than those who own a property.

Heterogeneous market?

When it comes to the costs of housing, the range of answers is wide: while every fifth European only spends up to 20 percent of their income on housing, the top 9 percent state that they are spending between 70 and 90 percent.

“Our survey shows that the European market is not as inhomogeneous as many people think. Of course each country has its particular quirks, related to specific market conditions and the economic situation,” says Michael Polzler, Managing Director of RE/MAX Europe, “But Europeans are very similar when it comes to housing conditions and price expectations.”

It’s a family affair

Perhaps the most heterogeneous picture of Europe is drawn when it comes to who people share their home with. The majority of Europeans lives with a partner, children or their parents. 15 percent live on their own, especially in Sweden and the DACH region (Germany, Austria and Switzerland). In Slovakia and Turkey, less than 5 percent of those surveyed live on their own.

“It is particularly true in south-eastern European countries that people tend to live with their families for longer, while in western European countries people often move out of their parental home when they start university or their first job,” Polzler explains. “In these markets, smaller apartments offering value for money are in stronger demand.”

The cost of living in Europe is growing

In most of the countries surveyed, the overwhelming majority agrees that renting a house or apartment is becoming more expensive. Interestingly, two-thirds of Austrians believe this, but only 23 percent of Greeks and 26 percent of Spaniards. When it comes to actual living costs, the Swedes are the most relaxed with only 23 percent stating that living in their country is rather expensive. By comparison, 66 percent of Swiss citizens and 62 percent of Finns would agree with this statement.

What is true for all countries questioned: “The older Europeans get, the more they think that living in their country is expensive”, says Polzler.

Some Europeans are willing to spend more on housing

On average, Europeans would spend a maximum of 39 percent of their net income on housing. This is nearly the same amount of money they are already spending. The highest percentage is shown in Spain and Greece (50 percent on average), with the lowest in Switzerland and France (30 percent). Not surprisingly: those who rent their homes spend more than those who own their homes.

It seems that Europeans have already reached their limit when it comes to housing costs. But looking closer at the details of the survey, it shows that Europeans would be willing to pay a little more if they were to receive better living conditions in return. “This means that there is an interesting target group for us to address in nearly every European country,” Michael Polzler says.

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