Recently housing affordability has reached the agenda in Flanders and the Netherlands, delivering a good reason to present a comprehensive review of the concept of affordability and different definitions. The concept of short-term affordability which is concerned with financial access to a dwelling and is based on cash flows is combined with the concept of long-term affordability which is about the costs of housing consumption.
The use of these concepts is illustrated for Flanders and the Netherlands. They show that each concept has its own uses and that they are not interchangeable. However, both concepts indicate that in 2005 higher-income households, and especially homeowners (with a mortgage), were relatively better off than lower-income households, particularly renters.
Homeowners’ higher income levels on average more than compensate for their higher expenses in comparison to tenants; they also receive higher explicit subsidization and in times of rising prices they also receive returns on housing.