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11 million empty homes in Europe prompt question if wealthy buyers must consider houses as investment vehicles, not places to live in

Millions of vacant homes

Charity groups in Europe are asking policymakers in the country to study the issue of wealthy buyers treating houses as investment tools instead of homes or places to live in.

The challenge was spearheaded by David Ireland, chief executive of the Empty Homes charity which is campaigning that vacant homes be made available to people who need a roof over their head.

Ireland pointed out that the continent lives in a modern-day societal scandal wherein there are over 11 million empty homes across Europe which is enough to provide homes to all of the continent’s homeless people twice over.

European Union data said there are 4.1 million homeless people in Europe.

Citing figures collated by the Guardian, Ireland disclosed that Spain has over 3.4 million homes that are vacant, Italy and France have more than 2 million homes each, Germany has 1.8 million and UK has more than 700,000.

Outside these 5 nations, there are also significant number of empty houses in Ireland, Greece, Portugal and other European nations. Most of them are in large holiday resorts constructed during the building boom until the global financial crisis hit property markets in 2008.

Almost all of them have never been occupied. Besides these empty nests, there are also hundreds of thousands of half-built homes that were bulldozed to boost the prices of existing empty properties.

Ireland described these edifices as a shocking waste, saying, “It’s incredible. It’s a massive number … It will be shocking to ordinary people.”

He stressed, “Homes are built for people to live in. If they’re not being lived in then something has gone seriously wrong with the housing market.”


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