Just how hard is it to buy a house without help from ‘bank of mum and dad’?

Evidence from NCDS has helped to show just how hard it has become for younger generations to get on the housing ladder, especially for those raised in families that did not own their homes.

As house prices have increased, the divide in wealth between people who own their homes and those who rent has grown wider. As a result, homeowners tend to have greater financial resources to help their children purchase a property.

What we asked you 

When you were age 16, your parents told us if they owned or rented their home.

You then told us about where you lived in your 30s and 40s. In your early 30s you also told us about any assets, investments or savings that you held.

Researchers were able to compare your circumstances to three other groups of British people, born in 1969, 1970 and in 1973.

What the research found

Researchers from the University of Surrey and the London School of Economics found that people in your generation were more likely to be homeowners by their early 40s than those born around a decade later. More than 80% of your age group owned their home at age 42, compared to only 69% of people born in 1973.

In both age groups, people whose parents were homeowners were more likely to become homeowners themselves, compared to those whose parents rented. But this gap almost doubled for those born in 1973, suggesting their chances of buying a home depended much more strongly on their parents’ housing wealth than was the case for your generation.

In your generation, 88% of people who were raised in family-owned homes went on to have a property at age 42, compared to only 74% of people who were brought up in rented accommodation. Among those born in 1973, the gap had grown to 27 percentage points (76% vs. 49%).

The study also found that children who were raised in family-owned homes went on to have greater savings and investments in adulthood.

Why this research matters

With the thorny issue of homeownership and wealth in the UK gaining ever greater attention, the researchers note that this report adds important new evidence to the debate. People’s homes are usually their greatest financial asset, meaning that inequality in homeownership is an important driver in overall wealth inequality.

Given the close connection between home ownership and wealth, this research suggests that homeowner parents may be in a better position to help to fund their children’s first forays into the housing market. Consequently, as house prices have risen dramatically, getting on the housing ladder has become much more difficult for younger people whose parents did not own their own home.

Read the full research report

Intergenerational home ownership by Jo Blanden, Andrew Eyles & Stephen Machin was published in the Journal of Economic Inequality in 2023.