Research by Halifax has shown that the traditional image of British life is changing, with British homeowners prefering to live in flats and apartments rather than terraced or semi-detached housing.
As part of its analysis of housing market changes over the past decade, Halifax has looked at the popularity and price growth of different house types; they have found that many now model their living arrangements like those made famous by the characters of the US sitcom Friends.
For first-time buyers in particular, flats are fast catching up with terraced houses in popularity, which is likely to be due to affordability issues; flat and apartment sales have risen from 18% to 33%. At the same time, all other types of property have declined as a proportion of these first-time buyer sales.
In 1996, semi-detached and terraced were the most popular types of property purchased. Ten years on, by 2006, and this remains the case. However, the greatest increase in share of total house sales has been from flats and apartments. In 1996 flats made up only 11% of all sales; by 2006 this has increased to 20%, overtaking detached properties to become the third most popular property type.
Over the past ten years, the greatest house price inflation of any property type has been seen in flats and apartments; a 211% rise for this type of property from £53,726 to £166,824.
Martin Ellis, chief economist at Halifax, says: “Looking at patterns of house sales and prices for different house types over the past decade gives an interesting insight into some of the socio-economic forces at work. The increased popularity of flats and apartments is due to a combination of reasons including the increasing trend for people to live alone and also the increased demand for property in cities where there is greater pressure for land.
“Affordability has also had a bearing on the rising number of buyers, particularly first time buyers, purchasing flats and apartments. However, the statistics also show that as demand has risen, so prices have also been pushed up disproportionately compared to other types of property.”