23 March 2018 – El País
77.8% of citizens resident in Spain own their own homes. In this way, the country was placed in 13th position in the ranking of European Union (EU) countries in terms of this parameter in 2016, one place below its position the previous year – after being overtaken by the Czech Republic – according to data from the European statistics institute Eurostat, and well outside of the Top 10. Compared to the European average (69.2%), the Spanish figures are still high, although each year, the percentage of homeowners is decreasing slightly to the benefit of the rental market. Ownership fever dominates in Eastern Europe, in particular, where the percentage exceeds 90% in many countries.
In 2007, the first year for which Eurostat compiled data for Spain, the country was ranked in 9th place in terms of the number of citizens owning their own home, with a percentage of 80.6%. Thus, between then and 2016, the rate has been decreasing slightly at the same time as the rates in other countries have been increasing, relegating Spain to lower positions in the ranking.
“In Spain, home ownership is decreasing slightly each year due to the economic conditions and the difficulty in accessing a mortgage”, explains José García Montalvo, Professor at the Universidad Pompeu Fabra, who points out that nowadays you need to have a permanent (employment) contract to be granted a mortgage, whereas, in 2007, you could have been a temporary worker. García Montalvo also argues that society has changed and young people – who are finding it harder to access real estate loans due to their employment conditions – regard the purchase of a home as a “problem” (…).
The professor says that the price of rental homes is rising due to greater demand, and he does not think that the decrease in home ownership is a phenomenon that is going to reverse despite the rent increases. In 2017, the price of rental homes in Spain recorded its third annual rise. The average price grew by 8.9% in 2017, the highest ever increase in the historical series of the real estate portal Fotocasa’s index, which has been compiling data since January 2006.
Eastern European countries lead the home-ownership statistics
In 2016, Romania was the country where the highest percentage of citizens owned their own home, with 96%. It was followed by Lithuania, with 90.3%; Croatia and Macedonia, with 90%; Slovakia (89.5%); Hungary with 86.3%; Poland, with 83.4%; Bulgaria (82.3%); Estonia and Malta, with 81.4%; Latvia with 80.9% and the Czech Republic with 78.2%. “The countries where citizens are most committed to buying their own home are primarily those in Eastern Europe. This is partly a result of the fact that many of those regions were communist countries and that when the market was opened up, it was shared out and everyone got involved”, says García Montalvo.
By contrast, the data from Eurostat shows that the citizens of countries with more consolidated economies back the rental market to a greater extent over the acquisition of home. Thus, Germany leads this category with 51.7% of its citizens owning their own home, followed by Austria, with 55%; and Denmark with 62%. Nevertheless, none of these countries fall below 50%, although the percentages are decreasing every year, opting for a rental model. The EU average stands at 69.2%, more than 8 percentage points below the figure in Spain.
“Rental is favoured in countries where labour mobility is higher such as in Germany and Austria. In Spain, it would be great if that was the case to boost labour mobility because ownership ties people down a lot (…).
Original story: El País (by Nahiara S. Alonso)
Translation: Carmel Drake