Changes in Owner Households’ Characteristics during the Crisis in Europe

Sabine Le Bayon OFCE (Observatoire français des conjonctures économiques) ; Sciences Po. Contact : sabine.
Pierre Madec OFCE ; Sciences Po. Contact :

The desire to own one’s home and to accumulate housing wealth is largely widespread in Europe. The fall in interest rates during the 2000s and the increased competition between banks have promoted the distribution of credit before the financial crisis. Despite public measures to support the housing sector, house prices and credit have collapsed in many European countries, after a decade of real estate boom. These evolutions result from the strengthening of bank balance sheets and from the slowdown in household income growth. Germany is an exception. After ten years of decline, prices have stabilized in the mid-2000s and even increased since 2010. In this context, we will first focus on the trend in household mobility and then analyse how the macroeconomic environment has impacted the profile of households who have recently purchased their home. Our logit regressions show that younger and/or lower income households have been the first victims of tighter credit conditions. Indeed, in all the countries studied (Germany, Spain, France, Italy and the United Kingdom), low-income households have seen their probability of purchase greatly reduced. This is the case even in Germany, where the probability of purchase for other households has tended to stagnate or to grow. The purchase likelihood of households under 30 years has strongly decreased in Spain. On the contrary, the probability of young households to buy their home in France has remained constant, due to quite favourable credit conditions, the “zero interest loan” reform and increased donations.

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