Main Report: The Burden of Property Debt in Great Britain, 2006/08 & 2008/10

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1 Main Report: The Burden of Property Debt in Great Britain, 2006/08 & 2008/10 Coverage: England and Wales Date: 13 May 2013 Geographical Area: Region Theme: Economy Key Points This release focuses on the property liabilities of households in Great Britain, examining both the self-reported burden and the characteristics of those households with this form of debt. Fewer than two in every five of all households (37.3%) had outstanding property debt on their main residence. The combined value of this property debt was Billion, up by 3.1% in current prices from 2006/08. For households with property debt on their main residence, half owed at least 75,000; households in London had the highest median property debt ( 128,000), whilst households in Scotland had the lowest ( 55,000). Fewer households considered their property debt a heavy burden (13.6%), down from 15.2% in 2006/08. Only two regions, the North East and Wales, saw a rise in the percentage of households with property liabilities reporting them to be a heavy burden since 2006/08. Office for National Statistics 1

2 Infographic Office for National Statistics 2

3 The Burden of Property Debt in Great Britain, 2006/08 & 2008/10 This report focuses on the property debt of households in Great Britain. For the purposes of the current story, property debt includes liabilities held against a household s main residence only. An earlier report concentrated on household financial debt, and comparisons between these two forms of debt have been made within the accompanying infographic. In 2008/10, fewer than two in every five of all households in Great Britain (37.3%) had property debt, down by 0.9 percentage points from 2006/08. The combined value of this property debt was estimated at billion; an increase of 3.1% in current prices from billion in 2006/08. For those households with property debt, the median outstanding loan increased from 70,000 in 2006/08, to 75,000 in 2008/10. Property Debt a Heavy Burden? Households with outstanding property liabilities on their main residence were asked to what extent the payments of these debts were a burden. Households were given the choice of declaring these payments as either a heavy burden, somewhat of a burden or no problem at all. The percentage of households considering their property debt a heavy burden decreased between the two waves of the survey. In 2006/08, 15.2% of households categorised their repayments of property debt in this way; a percentage which fell to 13.6% in 2008/10 (Figure 1). The percentage of households assessing their property debt as somewhat of a burden also reduced from 38.0% in 2006/08, to 37.0% in 2008/10. Office for National Statistics 3

4 Figure 1: Self-reported Burden of Property Debt, Great Britain, 2006/08, 2008/10 Notes: 1. Excludes individuals living in households with no liabilities on their main residence. 2. Excludes non-response at this particular question. Office for National Statistics 4

5 The Extent of Property Debt In 2008/10, over one in five mortgage owned households (22.3%) whose property debt on their main residence exceeded 80% of the overall property value considered this debt a heavy burden (Figure 2). This compared with 6.5% of those households whose property debt accounted for less than or equal to 20% of the property value. Combining responses for those who reported their property debt as either a heavy burden or somewhat of a burden, nearly two-thirds (66.0%) of households whose debt exceeded 80% of their property value reported the repayments a burden. This percentage was over twice as high as the number of households considering their debt a burden in the group with the lowest percentage of their property value outstanding (31.7%). Office for National Statistics 5

6 Figure 2: Self-reported Burden of Property Debt, by Extent of Property Liabilities: Great Notes: 1. Excludes households with no property liabilities. 2. Excludes non-response at this particular question. Property Debt by Household Total Wealth Household total wealth is a net wealth measure for each household created by adding together the different types of household wealth; property wealth (net), financial wealth (net), physical wealth and private pension wealth. The following analysis orders households from least wealthy to wealthiest in terms of their household total wealth and divides them into five equally sized groups. Ownership with a mortgage was the most common tenure for households in the middle of the wealth distribution; over half or 50.4% of middle wealth households had outstanding property liabilities on their main residence (Figure 3). Mortgage ownership was least common amongst households in the Office for National Statistics 6

7 bottom wealth group (7.8%). The majority of households belonging to the bottom group rented their main residence (92.0%). As we move up the wealth groups, the percentage of households owning their main residence outright increases. The wealthiest group contain the most households owning their main residence outright (56.4%). Figure 3: Tenure of Main Residence, by Household Total Wealth Groups: Great Britain, 2008/10 Figure 4 considers how the self-reported burden of debt varies by household total wealth, for those households with outstanding property liabilities on their main residence. Although the bottom wealth group contained the fewest households with property liabilities, nearly a quarter or 24.7 of households in this group with property liabilities considered this debt a heavy burden ; the highest percentage of all the wealth groups (Figure 4). The percentage of households considering their property debt a heavy burden reduced as household total wealth increased. The percentage of households considering their property debt a heavy burden was lowest in the wealthiest group (8.1%). Office for National Statistics 7

8 Figure 4: Property Debt Considered A Heavy Burden, by Household Total Wealth Group: Great Britain, 2008/10 Notes: 1. Excludes non-response at this particular question. 2. Quintile groups are produced by ordering households by their household total wealth and dividing them into 5 equally sized groups. 3. Excludes individuals living in households with no liabilities on their main residence. Property Debt by Region Considering the nine regions of England and the countries of Wales and Scotland, the South East had the highest percentage of households with outstanding mortgage liabilities on their main residence (39.8%), followed by Yorkshire and the Humber (39.2%) and the East of England (38.8%) Figure 5. Although Wales contained the lowest percentage of households with property debt (34.2%), the outright ownership rate was higher in this region than any other in 2008/10 (37.0%). London demonstrated the lowest percentage of households owning their main residence outright (22.6%) and the second lowest percentage of households owning their main residence with help from a mortgage (35.6%). Some reasons why London contained fewer owner occupier households Office for National Statistics 8

9 include higher house prices (the average house price in London in 2011 was about 353,000, which was 2.5 times that of the North East the region with the lowest average house price at 139,000) and a younger age demographic compared with other regions of Great Britain (about 23% of the population of London was within the age group 16-29, the highest across the regions. Younger people earning relatively less than older and more experienced people, are less likely to be able to afford to buy houses). Figure 5: Percentage of Households Owning Main Residence Outright or with a Mortgage, by Region: Great Britain, 2008/10 Office for National Statistics 9

10 In 2008/10, households in London had the highest median property debt at 128,000; an increase of 13.3% since 2006/08 when it was 113,000 and a finding which reflects the higher average house prices in London than in any other region within Great Britain (Figure 6). Households in Scotland had the lowest median property debt ( 55,000); this value has increased by 10.0% since 2006/08 when it was 50,000. Overall, each region showed an increase in the median household property liabilities between the two waves of the survey. Figure 6: Median Household Property Liabilities by region: Great Britain, 2006/08, 2008/10 Notes: 1. Median excludes households without property liabilities. In 2008/10, more households in the South West with property liabilities reported these a heavy burden than any other region (16.5%). Scotland contained the fewest households considering their Office for National Statistics 10

11 property debt to be a heavy burden (8.2%). Between the two waves of the survey, the North East demonstrated the largest percentage point rise in households reporting their property debt a heavy burden ; an increase of 4.9 percentage points from 10.6% in 2006/08 to 15.6% in 2008/10 (Figure 7). In contrast, the percentage of households in London considering their property debt repayments a heavy burden fell by 4.5 percentage points, from 19.0% in 2006/08 to 14.6% in 2008/10. Overall, 9 out of the 11 regions in Great Britain saw a fall in households with property debt, reporting this to be a heavy burden between 2006/08 and 2008/10. Figure 7: The Percentage Point Change in Households Considering Their Property Debt a Heavy Burden, by Region: Great Britain, 2006/08, 2008/10 Notes: 1. Excludes individuals living in households with no liabilities on their main residence. Property Debt by Age Office for National Statistics 11

12 In 2008/10, over 6 out of every 10 households headed by an individual aged between 35 and 44 had property liabilities (60.8%), slightly more than those headed by individuals aged between 45 and 54 (54.8%) or under 35 (48.3%). The percentage of households with property liabilities was lower for households headed by older individuals (28.7% with a head aged between 55 and 64, and only 5.0 % with a head aged 65 or over). This is a clear life cycle effect, with mortgages being paid off as individuals approach retirement age. The value of property liabilities shows a slightly different pattern. In 2008/10, households headed by an individual aged under 35 had the highest median property debt at 105,000 (Figure 8). The level of property debt falls consistently as the age group of the household head increases, with the property liability for households with a head aged 65 or over having a median value of 30,000. Figure 8: Median Household Property Liabilities, by Age of Household Head: Great Britain,2006/08, 2008/10 Notes: 1. Median excludes households without property liabilities. Office for National Statistics 12

13 Households with property debt and headed by an individual aged between 35 and 44 had the highest percentage considering their property liabilities a heavy burden (14.4%), only slightly higher than those households with a head aged between 45 and 54 (14.0%) and those households with a head aged under 35 (13.2%). Over 1 in 10 households with a head aged between 55 and 64 (11.7%) or aged 65 and over (11.2%) still reported their property liabilities a heavy burden. Property Debt by Household Type The household type married or cohabiting couple with dependent children had the highest percentage with property debt. Over two-thirds of households of this type (67.6%) had property debt in 2008/10 (Table 1). The median property debt was also highest of all the household types at 95,000. Married or cohabiting couples with no dependent children had median property debt of 67,000. Almost half of these households (48.9%) had property debt in 2008/10. Households where all members were over state pension age had the lowest percentage with property debt (5.3%). The median property debt for these households was 28,500; the lowest median property debt value of all household types. Just over a quarter or 26.3% of all lone parent households had property debt in 2008/10. The median value of property debt for this household type was 55,000. Table 1: Median Household Property Liabilities, and Percentage of Households with Property Liabilities, by Household Type: Great Britain, 2008/10 Type of household % With Property Debt Median Property Debt ( ) Married/ Cohabiting, dependent children Married/ Cohabiting, no dependent children Single person household under SPA Two or more families/other household type , , , ,000 Lone Parent Households ,000 Households over SPA ,500 All Households ,000 Table notes: 1. Median excludes households without property liabilities. 2. Source: Wealth and Assets Survey, Office for National Statistics Download table (29 Kb) Office for National Statistics 13

14 The household type reporting the highest debt burden was lone parent households, 22.5% of these households reported their property debt as a heavy burden (Figure 9). This was followed by married/cohabiting couples with dependent children; 15.7% of these households reported their property debt as a heavy burden. Less than one in ten (9.9%) married/cohabiting couples with no dependent children reported their property debt as a heavy burden. And 10.9% of single person households under SPA reported a heavy burden caused by their property debt. Figure 9: Percentage of Households Reporting Their Property Liabilities as a Heavy Burden,by Household Type: Great Britain, 2008/10 Notes: 1. Some household types have been combined due to low base numbers. 2. SPA refers to state pension age (65 for men, 60 for women). 3. Household type describes the composition of the household based on the number and age of adults, dependentand non-dependent children. Office for National Statistics 14

15 Related Statistics The current story focuses predominantly on the property aspect of a household s debt. Financial debt was investigated in an earlier story: Wealth in Great Britain Wave 2 - The Burden of Household Debt in Great Britain To date, the Wealth and Assets Survey has released a number of other major reports and short stories for the first two waves. Wealth in Great Britain: Main results from the Wealth and Assets Survey Wave 1: 2006/08 Wealth in Great Britain: Main results from the Wealth and Assets Survey Wave 2: 2008/10, Part 1 Wealth in Great Britain: Main results from the Wealth and Assets Survey Wave 2: 2008/10, Part 2 Wealth in Great Britain: Main results from the Wealth and Assets Survey Wave 2: 2008/10, Part 3 Wealth of the Wealthiest Households, Great Britain, 2008/10 Wealth of the Average Household, Great Britain, 2008/10 Background notes 1. The current story focuses predominantly on the property aspect of a household s debt. Financial debt was investigated in an earlier story and is compared with property debt in the accompanying infographic. 2. Information on wealth and liabilities is as reported in current prices; it has not been adjusted for inflation, nor have results been equivalised to reflect differences in household size and composition. 3. The Wealth and Assets Survey (WAS) is a longitudinal survey conducted by the ONS which aims to address gaps identified in data about the economic well-being of households. It gathers information on, among others, level of assets, savings and debt; saving for retirement; how wealth is distributed among households or individuals; and factors that affect financial planning. The survey is currently in its fourth wave of interviewing and to date has released a number of major reports and short stories [please see related statistics tab]. 4. Some analysis presented herein considers property debt by total household wealth. To aide interpretation, the current story has sorted households into ascending order based upon their total household wealth and then divided them into five groups of equal size (quintiles). Office for National Statistics 15

16 5. Within the current story only median values are presented. The median is the value of the middle item when data are arranged in ascending order. If the number of items is even the median is the average of the middle pair of values. Where the distribution of property debt is unequal, the median gives a better measure for the whole population. The mean, which provides the arithmetic average, is likely to be influenced by high values so it does not reflect the experience of most individuals. The mean values are available within the background tables. 6. Average regional house prices from the House Price Index mix-adjusted house price. 7. No statistical significance testing was performed as part of the analysis for the present article 8. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting or from the Media Relations Office The United Kingdom Statistics Authority has designated these statistics as National Statistics, in accordance with the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 and signifying compliance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics. Designation can be broadly interpreted to mean that the statistics: meet identified user needs; are well explained and readily accessible; are produced according to sound methods; and are managed impartially and objectively in the public interest. Once statistics have been designated as National Statistics it is a statutory requirement that the Code of Practice shall continue to be observed. Copyright Crown copyright 2013 You may use or re-use this information (not including logos) free of charge in any format or medium, under the terms of the Open Government Licence. To view this licence, visit or write to the Information Policy Team, The National Archives, Kew, London TW9 4DU, or This document is also available on our website at Office for National Statistics 16

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