New research compiled by the Halifax, the UK's largest mortgage lender, shows that there has been a fundamental shift in housing demand due to the growth in the number of single people buying houses.
These changes will impact planners and builders who will need to take account of these changes when designing the UK's future housing stock.
The research shows that there has been a substantial increase in the proportion of single homebuyers over the past 20 years. Last year, single buyers accounted for more than four in ten buyers compared with only a quarter in 1983. This trend is set to continue as a result of social and demographic factors.
The proportions of both single male and single female buyers have increased significantly since the early 1980's. The largest increase has been seen in the percentage of single women buying their own home – increasing from 8% in 1983 to 17% in 2001. Whilst this trend largely reflects the increase in the financial and economic independence of women over the past two decades, the proportion of all homebuyers who are single female purchasers has remained static at 17% for the last nine years. By contrast, the upward trend in single male buyers has continued - rising from 21% in 1993 to 24% last year.
Most regions have proportions of single buyers that are closely in line with the national average, but London and Scotland are exceptions. Singles represent one in two buyers in the capital and 45% of all buyers north of the border compared with 41% for the UK as a whole. These two areas of the country also have the highest proportions of single female buyers – 22% in London and 20% in Scotland compared to the UK average of 17%. East Anglia and the South East have the lowest proportions of single female first time buyers – both with 15% compared to the national average of 21%.
Martin Ellis, Halifax Group economist, says: “The dramatic shift towards more and more homeowners buying on their own is set to continue over the next 20 years. It is, therefore, imperative that planners and builders take account of this when deciding what type of properties to build and where to build them.”