Housing-related expenditure has increased considerably in Europe over the last decade and now represents the highest share of consumer spending at EU level, says the latest research published by RICS.
As a consequence of growing incomes, housing evolved into the most relevant item of consumer spending in an increasing number of EU Member States. The research also shows that countries with a higher level of income per capita spent more on housing-related consumption. Owner-occupied housing has also increased and data shows that housing consumption is the largest share of consumer spending in 21 out of 27 EU Member States. In 2009, the equivalent of 1,500 billion was spent on housing at EU level.
RICS Senior Vice President, Michael Newey FRICS CEO of Broadland Housing and expert on affordable housing said: "Although European legislation does not affect national housing policies, there is a lack of easily accessible data and research on consumers' housing-related expenditure at EU level.
He continued: "In times of economic uncertainty and budget restrictions for both governments and households across Europe, comprehensive data on consumer spending is essential. With this in mind, the latest RICS report addresses this gap by providing an overview of consumer spending with a specific focus on housing."
Speaking about the research report, Sander Scheurwater, Head of EU Policy and Public Affairs & Co-chair of the European Housing Forum, further commented: "The fact that housing absorbs the largest of consumer spending is, on the one hand, a direct consequence of rising energy-related expenses, which once again shows the importance of tackling energy efficiency of existing building stock in a cost-efficient way."
He continued: "On the other hand, the increasing importance of housing expenditure for home-owners shows that, in most EU countries, buying a house or an apartment is the preferred option of many. National policies have certainly strengthened this. In a time of decreasing budgets, both for countries and households, the question whether such an approach is sustainable will need to be addressed."
Peter Parlasca FRICS, author of the report, commented: "Housing is not only a vital element in consumer spending. According to data published by Eurostat, the importance of housing increased for European consumers during the last decade. The main driver over time were the increasing relevance of owner occupied housing in Europe. The huge discrepancies between EU member States are not linked to the level of income, but reflect different structures within national housing markets."
Source: RICS Europe