Owner-occupation in England falls a record 83,000

The number of owner-occupiers in England fell by a record 83,000 in 2007, according to Communities and Local Government data. This raises serious questions about the government\'s target to increase owner occupation to 75%.

The fall brings the number of owner-occupied homes down from 14.621 million in 2006 to 14.538 million in 2007. As a result, the rate of owner-occupancy has fallen during 2007 from 70.3% in 2006 to 69.8% – the lowest rate since 1998.

This fall was driven by a 2% (164,000) decline in the number of people buying a home with a mortgage. The number of those owning their home outright (having either bought with cash or paid off their mortgage) failed to increase sufficiently to offset this decline, rising by 1.3% (81,000).

The number of households renting privately, however, rose a further 107,000 in 2007 – no doubt stimulated by the buy-to-let market which continues to grow.

A new survey from the Council of Mortgage Lenders shows buy-to-let lending was £24.1bn in the second half of 2007, up from £21.2bn in the first half of the year and £20.8bn in the second half of 2006.

The number of loans (including remortgages) to buy-to-let landlords in the second half of the year was 179,100, up from 171,800 in the first half of the year and 177,200 in the second half of 2006.

The number of outstanding buy-to-let mortgages has now passed the million mark, to 1,038,000 at the end of 2007 – nearly 23% up on the 846,900 figure a year earlier.