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How Does Homeownership Differ Around the Globe?

By HOM Editorial Team
February 2015

Fast Fact: Home ownership isn’t just an American dream. It’s a global one that’s unattainable to millions outside our borders, serving as a reminder we shouldn’t take it for granted.

The country a person calls ‘home’ can be a game changer when it comes to the ability to own a home. Not every government gives home ownership the same respect we give it here in the U.S.

Those that do, help boost home ownership much like we do — through legislation, tax policies, zoning rules, financial regulations, and funding subsidies.

Home ownership really gained momentum in the 1980s when the U.S. and Europe pushed for affordable housing programs, putting more people on the path to financial stability. The median net worth of an average homeowner in the U.S. is $195,400. Average renter? Only $5,400.


The World Bank and United Nations both measure housing affordability worldwide on a scale of 1 to 5; 1 being the most affordable and 5 the least.

Countries also provide their own definitions. In the U.S. and Canada, housing is considered affordable as long as its cost doesn’t exceed 30% of a homeowner’s gross income. In India, the rule is 40%.

Other examples:

  • Australia’s National Affordable Housing Summit Group defines affordable housing as that which is “…reasonably adequate in standard and location for lower and middle income households and does not cost so much that a household is unlikely to be able to meet other basic needs on a sustainable basis.”
  • In the United Kingdom, the definition includes “social rented and intermediate housing, provided to specified eligible households whose needs are not met by the market.”
  • The U.S., the Department of Housing and Urban Development has established the goal of “a decent home and suitable living environment for all Americans.”


Think about this: as our economy becomes more global, how will that affect home ownership? Even though home values and markets are local in nature, around much of the world they’re inextricably connected. Miami prices respond to turmoil in Latin America. Vancouver home values react to Chinese populations across Asia. London prices reflect Russian and Eastern European economic highs and lows.

The recent drop in U.S. home sales reflects what’s happening in many cities around the world. Paris, Stockholm, Hong Kong, and Shanghai are all facing challenges with affordable housing. India, as a country, may be in the worst situation with an estimated 20-million deficit in affordable homes.

Plus the U.S. is losing its status as the poster child for home ownership. The rate of U.S. home ownership has fallen 6% in just a few short years.

Tell Congress to support initiatives that will help make home ownership affordable again for average Americans.


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