Additional property wealth across Britain is up more than 50% to almost £1 trillion

17 June 2019

Over one in 10 people across Britain own second homes, Buy-to-let and overseas properties worth £941bn, according to new Nuffield-funded research published by the Resolution Foundation.

Game of Homes looks at the growth of additional property wealth over the last 20 years, who owns it, and what it means for wealth gaps across Britain.

The report finds that the rise of additional property wealth since 2001 has been the flipside of falling home ownership. Last year (2014-16), 5.5 million people reported additional property wealth – up 53% since 2001. The real-terms value of additional property wealth has increased from around £610bn in 2001 to £941bn (in 2018-19 prices) over the same period.

Game of Homes finds that, like most other forms of wealth, additional property wealth is accumulated over time, and is therefore most common among those born in the 1950s – 17% of whom report additional property wealth.

However, while younger generations have failed to match the property wealth accumulation of previous generations – 37% of people born in the 1980s had property wealth at age 29, compared to 50% of people born in the 1960s – they are matching the additional property ownership rates of previous generations.

The 1980s cohort have reached the same rate of additional property ownership that the 1960s cohort did by age 29, with 7% of adults holding some additional property wealth in each case. This suggests that millennial property wealth is being increasingly concentrated among rich households, says the Resolution 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 of ownership, having grown by 58% 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). Additional property wealth is therefore having a far greater effect on the UK housing market than it is on holiday homes overseas.

The Resolution Foundation says that the huge wealth transfers in the Buy-to-let market are currently taking place between generations – with younger private renters transferring money to older landlords. Baby boomers receive more than half (52%) of all rental income in the UK.

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

Finally, the Resolution Foundation says that the rising in multiple property ownership, at a time when young people’s home ownership is so low, should reinforce 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 the Buy-to-let market, 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, those that do own are more likely to have more than one property."