Housing equity and consumption: insights from the Survey of English Housing

Quarterly Bulletin 2004 Q3
Published on 24 September 2004

By Andrew Benito of the Bank's Structural Economic Analysis Division and John Power of the Bank's Inflation Report and Bulletin Division.

This article examines data from the 2003 Survey of English Housing (SEH) in order to shed light on the link between gross equity withdrawal and spending. Our analysis suggests that the bulk of gross withdrawals is not consumed in the near term. Those who sell a property without purchasing another one and those who trade down are more likely to pay off debt or save withdrawn equity than spend the proceeds. Remortgagors and those who obtain further secured advances are likely to spend the equity, but we estimate that their equity constitutes only about a quarter of total gross withdrawals. Of those who spend equity, financing home improvements rather than purchasing consumer goods appears to be the most important use of funds. That is consistent with the relatively weak relationship between consumption and mortgage equity withdrawal recently observed in aggregate data.

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