April 15, 2021

Why do we take longer and longer to access a home that we own?


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He youth unemployment, temporary employment and low wages, and, to a lesser extent, the greater mobility and absence of burdens provided by renting, place the age of access to the first home owned in Spain around 40 years, and the rate of young people living with their parents between one of the highest in Europe.

Acquire owning a home is a difficult task for youth in Spain. According to the report carried out by the consulting firm Colliers International Spain, a young couple with two minimum interprofessional salaries (950 euros per month in 14 payments) needs to save on average in Spain six years to face the initial outlay of buying a home. An average time that rises to 15.6 years in Madrid, 17.3 in Barcelona and 19.2 in Donostia-San Sebastián.

The reality supports these projections. The profile of the person who acquires their first home in Spain is that of a 40-year-old woman, with children and an average economic level.

The other reading of this situation is that fewer and fewer young people own a home in Spain: if in 2011 there were 69% of those under 35, in 2017 the percentage dropped to 41%, according to data from the Bank of Spain Financial Survey of Families.

Labor difficulties

The main background of this late age for the purchase of a first home is in the labor difficulties that young people face, starting with unemployment. 40.45% of young people between 16 and 24 years old are unemployed, and 42% of the total unemployed population in Spain is between 16 and 34 years old, according to data from the Active Population Survey (EPA ) of the third quarter of 2020.

Unemployment is not the only impediment young people face to access a home. Added to him are the problems of temporality and low wages. In 2018, 26.8% of the Spanish population had a temporary contract; in the case of employees between 20 and 29 years old, the percentage increased to 54.8%, according to a report by the La Caixa Social Observatory.

The other characteristic issue of the job insecurity of youth in Spain is low wages. The average salary of young people in our country is 973 euros per month, which makes it very difficult, even as a couple, to acquire a home.

In this scenario of unemployment, temporary employment and low salaries, access to financing is especially complicated, both due to job instability and the rate of effort required to buy a home, two factors that banks take into account when it comes to approve a home loan.

Retirement delay

Faced with these difficulties, the majority of young people who access a home they own do so, according to professionals in the sector, with financial help or the endorsement of their parents. The other alternatives are to choose a rental home or to delay emancipation.

The latter is what has been happening since the 2008 recession and the worsening of working conditions that frustrated the attempts of the younger population to become independent.

Although Spain has traditionally been one of the European countries with a higher percentage of young people living with their parents, in the last decade the rate of people between 18 and 34 years old who live with their parents has not stopped growing: from 51.5 % from 2010 to 64.5% from 2019, according to Eurostat data. One of the highest percentages in Europe, only behind those of Montenegro, Macedonia, Slovakia, Serbia, Croatia, Italy and Greece.

More mobility

Although working conditions and this gap between youth wages and house prices are the main factor in the delay in the age of purchase of the first home, another part of the young, and not so young, choose the rental option compared to a property owned.

According to a study by CaixaBank Research, 13% of people who rent a living do have enough savings to afford the purchase of a home. In some cases, the greater geographical mobility that leasing allows, the absence of charges and the greater ease of adapting to a change in the family economic situation, together with the greater interest in rent experienced since the crisis of the mortgage bubble, encourage this alternative.

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