Additional property wealth across Britain is up more than 50 per cent this century to almost £1 trillion

Published on Intergenerational Centre

Over one in ten people across Britain own second homes, buy-to-let and overseas properties worth £941bn, according to new research published today (Saturday) by the Resolution Foundation.

Game of Homes – a report funded by the Nuffield Foundation – looks at the growth of additional property wealth over the last two decades, who owns it, and what it means for wealth gaps across Britain.

The report shows that rising additional property wealth since 2001 has been the flipside of falling home ownership. The latest data (for 2014-16) shows that 5.5 million people reported additional property wealth, up 53 per cent since 2001. The value of additional property wealth has increased from around £610bn in 2001 to £941bn over the same period (both in 2018-19 prices).

Game of Homes finds that, like most other forms of wealth, additional property wealth is accumulated over time, and is therefore most common among older generations. Around one in six people born in the 1950s report additional property wealth, the highest of any cohort.

The report notes that younger generations are failing to match the home ownership rates of previous generations, with 37 per cent of people born in the 1980s having property wealth at age 29, compared to 50 per cent of people born in the 1960s.

However, it finds that younger generations are matching the additional property ownership rates of previous generations, with 7 per cent of those born in the 1960s and 1980s having additional property wealth by the age of 29. This suggests that millennial property wealth is being increasingly concentrated among rich households, says the Foundation.

Looking at the kinds of additional property wealth that people own, the report shows that buy-to-let property is now by far the most common form, having grown by 58 per cent since 2006-08. 1.9 million people have buy-to-let property wealth, compared to 970,000 people owning overseas property (which hasn’t grown since 2008).

The Resolution Foundation says that big income transfers in the buy-to-let market are currently taking place between generations. Younger private renters tend to transfer money to older landlords, with baby boomers receiving more than half (52 per cent) of all rental income in the UK.

However, the increasing concentration of additional property wealth among rich households means that in future we could see more income transfers within generations as poorer, middle-aged, millennial renters pay their rich, millennial landlords.

The Resolution Foundation says that the trend of rising multiple property ownership and falling home ownership, particularly among young people, reinforces the need for policy makers to encourage a more equitable distribution of housing wealth across the country.

It urges the government to build on welcome reforms to buy-to-let, in order to rebalance the housing market back towards first-time buyers.

George Bangham, Policy Analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said:

“Multiple property wealth has grown rapidly over the last two decades, with over one in ten people today owning a share of Britain’s £941bn worth of second homes, buy-to-let and overseas properties.

“The rise of additional property wealth, particularly among buy-to-let properties, is the flipside of falling home ownership. But while young people in particular are less likely to own their own home than previous generations, those that do own are more likely to have more than one property.

“The sheer scale of additional property wealth is an important driver of rising wealth gaps across Britain.

“And as the huge stock of second homes, buy-to-let and overseas properties starts to be passed on to younger generations, Britain risks becoming a country where getting ahead in life depends as much on what you inherit, as what you earn.”

Notes to Editors

  • The report is the fourth in a series of reports that are being published in the run up to the launch of the new Intergenerational Centre, hosted by the Resolution Foundation, and its inaugural Intergenerational audit, which is published on 20 June. The Audit, along with its associated briefing notes, events and dedicated microsite with new interactive data, are funded by the Nuffield Foundation.
  • The Nuffield Foundation is an independent charitable trust with a mission to advance social well-being. It funds research that informs social policy, primarily in Education, Welfare, and Justice. It also funds student programmes that provide opportunities for young people to develop skills in quantitative and qualitative methods. The Nuffield Foundation is the founder and co-funder of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics and the Ada Lovelace Institute. The Foundation has funded this project, but the views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily the Foundation. Visit nuffieldfoundation.org