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Beyond the Bricks - The Meaning of Home

Real Estate

Key Takeaways

Beyond the Bricks

The meaning of home

The meaning of home. UK factsheet

Sixty-one percent of people in the UK who do not own their own home expect to do so in the next five years.

Beyond the Bricks is HSBC’s new international study on home ownership, providing insights into how people really feel and behave when buying, renting and owning their own home. This factsheet series represents the views of more than 9,000 people in nine countries around the world. This is a snapshot of some of the key UK research findings about millennials’ home ownership prospects, the changing role of the home, and the pitfalls of budgeting. There are also some practical tips to help people make their home ownership dream a reality.

Millennials and home ownership

Is the dream dead?

Millennials’ home ownership ambitions are alive and kicking, but growing affordability challenges look set to defer the dreams of many.

Almost a third (31%) of millennials own their own home and among those who don’t, almost three quarters (74%) intend to buy a home in the next five years.

But with 54% of millennials who don’t own a home needing a higher salary before they can buy, the combination of slow salary growth and rising property prices makes it unlikely that all will be able to achieve their goal.

In the UK, the typical millennial earned £8,000 less during their twenties than their predecessors, putting them at risk of being the first group of workers in modern times to see their lifetime earnings fall compared to the previous generation1.

Average property prices in the UK increased by 7.5% in 20162.

However, salaries in real terms are expected to grow by only 1.9% in 20173.

The affordability challenge is highlighted by the fact that 67% of millennials intending to buy have not yet saved enough for a deposit, and that 43% are being held back because they cannot afford to buy the type of property that they would like. 

1 Resolution Foundation Intergenerational Commission Report: Generation Stagnation July 2016

2 International Monetary Fund: Global House Price Index October 2016 (2016: Q2 or latest, annual percent change)

3 Korn Ferry Hay Group: 2017 Salary Forecast 

Budget blindness

Millennials also do not have their house in order when it comes to financial planning for their home purchase.

Of millennial non-owners intending to buy a home in the next two years, 40% have no overall budget in mind (the second highest proportion in all nine countries) and a further 48% have only set an approximate budget. 


So it is not surprising that 57% of millennials who bought a home in the last two years ended up overspending their budget. 

Making sacrifices

On the other hand, many millennials are willing to consider making sacrifices to afford their own home.

Almost half (47%) of millennials intending to buy would consider spending less on leisure and going out, 33% would be prepared to buy a smaller than ideal place, 19% would consider buying with friends and 15% with a family member. Sixteen percent would even be prepared to delay having children. 

The Bank of Mum and Dad

Financial support from parents can make all the difference when saving for a home. Thirty-five percent of millennial home owners have used the ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’ as a source of funding.

Additionally, over a quarter (27%) of millennial home owners moved back in with their parents to save for a deposit.

The Bank of Mum and Dad is in demand again when millennials who recently bought a home found they had exceeded their budget. More than a quarter (27%) borrowed from their family to manage the unexpected costs. 

Too little too late

Shaky foundations

Millennials are not the only generation to find the full cost of buying a home higher than they expected.

Forty percent of all non-owners intending to buy in the next two years have set no overall budget. Forty-eight percent have an approximate budget in mind, and only 12% have set a precise one.

More than half (57%) of recent home owners found the total cost of buying a home was more than they had budgeted. 

Unwelcome surprises

Overspending is typically caused by not budgeting for the additional costs of home ownership beyond the property purchase price. Renovation costs (57%) and buying furniture (52%) are the most common reasons why recent home buyers overspent.

This reflects the fact that nearly three in five (56%) people see their home as 

Most common reasons why recent home buyers overspent 

Home reinvention

Star quality

Nearly two thirds of people (65%) are very happy with their homes, awarding them a 4 or 5 star rating.

Home owners are noticeably happier (75%) than non-owners (55%). 

When people were asked what they would do to achieve a 5 star rating for their home, the most popular change was to renovate or modernise (42%).

Eighteen percent would add space or rooms, 11% would choose a quieter or safer area and the same proportion would like more or improved outdoor space. Four percent would add specific features such as a pool. 

Location, location, location

When choosing the location of their current home, being in a safe and secure area (30%), the right type of area (22%), being close to family (22%) and good transport links (21%) were important.

The least important reasons were employment opportunities in the area (8%) and being close to bars and restaurants (9%). 

Work-life balance

The meaning of home is changing as our homes become places to work as well as places to live.

Two in five (40%) millennials work from home and a similar proportion (37%) would like to, whereas less than a third (28%) of baby boomers work from home and only 11% would like to.

Sixty-one percent of baby boomers never work from home and do not want to. 

Practical steps

Here are some practical steps, drawn from the research findings, to help people bring their home ownership dream to life: 

1 Plan early and don’t underestimate the deposit

Start planning early to make home ownership a reality sooner. Include saving for the deposit, usually the first payment you will need to make. Find a competitive mortgage to help make borrowing the rest more affordable. 


2 Budget beyond the purchase price

Think about the extra things that will make the house you buy the home you want to live in, and make sure to include them in your home purchase budget. 


3 Consider what sacrifices you can make

Consider cutting back on your day-to-day spending. Think outside the box about what could help you to buy a home, such as buying with a family member or friend. 


4 Get a full view of your finances

Think of your mortgage as part of your long-term financial plan, not as a one-off transaction. Different types of home loan suit different needs and situations. Seek professional financial advice if you need help to make the right choice. 

The research

Beyond the Bricks is an independent consumer research study into global home ownership, commissioned by HSBC. It provides authoritative insights into peoples’ attitudes and behaviour towards home buying, renting and funding around the world.

This factsheet series, The meaning of home, represents the views of 9,009 people in nine countries: Australia, Canada, China, France, Malaysia, Mexico, UAE, UK and USA.

The findings are based on a survey of home owners and non-owners aged 18 or older from a nationally representative online sample in eight countries and a nationally representative face-to-face sample in the UAE. The research was conducted by Kantar TNS in October and November 2016.

This factsheet represents the views of 1,000 people in the UK. 


Millennials: Those born between 1981 and 1998.

Baby boomers: Those born between 1946 and 1963. 

Recent home owners/buyers: Those who bought their home in the last two years. 

Legal disclaimer

Information and/or opinions provided within this factsheet constitute research information only and do not constitute an offer to sell, or solicitation of an offer to buy any financial services and/or products, or any advice or recommendation with respect to such financial services and/or products. 

Legal disclaimer

Information and/or opinions provided within this factsheet constitute research information only and do not constitute an offer to sell, or solicitation of an offer to buy any financial services and/or products, or any advice or recommendation with respect to such financial services and/or products.