Britain's home owners are becoming increasingly young, free and single, according to a new report issued by Charcol.
The number of single homeowners has risen by 13% over the last 15 years and evidence suggests they have contributed more than their joint mortgage counterparts to the huge rise in property prices over this period.
Barring a full scale economic downturn, this trend is set to increase, with Charcol predicting house-hungry singletons (Charcol's term for single person households) could account for approaching half (44%) of the new mortgage market by 2007 and could potentially outnumber joint mortgage borrowers by as early as 2023.
The Power of One report, produced for Charcol by Capital Economics, analyses a range of historical industry data, including property prices, mortgage borrowing, and purchaser type, combined with a specially-commissioned survey of single owners' behaviour and attitudes.
This economic data is supported by a Charcol survey of singletons' attitudes, demonstrating overwhelming enthusiasm for home ownership. A resounding 81% 6 of the single borrowers polled said they bought alone out of choice rather than necessity and 65%6 said they valued the independence that living alone provides them.
Ricky Okey, general manager of Charcol, says: “Single buyers' impact on the housing market has snowballed over the past decade, and we believe that it will keep gathering pace for the foreseeable future. This has a number of implications for the mortgage and property markets – an effect we have termed 'The Singleton effect'.
“Our report highlights a fundamental shift in homeowning culture. 15 years ago most people waited until they were married or at least living with someone before taking the property plunge; today for many, it seems to be a mortgage rather than a marriage that people aspire to.
“The strength of the singleton cannot be ignored. With singletons ploughing more and more money into property, either for living or investments, the property market is becoming increasingly conscious of this growing economic power base and needs to be prepared to adapt its offerings from mortgages to housing, to meet their needs.”