7 January 2016

British homeowners: can’t change, won’t change?

  • A third (34%) of homeowners associate change with 'uncertainty' and are nervous about changes imposed on them.
  • Worries about negative consequences are the biggest barrier to change for a third (33%) of homeowners.
  • One in seven (14%) say the don't have time, or don't know how, to make a positive change.

January is the time of the year when people traditionally look to make a positive change to their life. However, new research from TSB has found that one in five (20%) British homeowners find change 'scary' and over a third (34%) say they associate change with 'uncertainty'.

TSB's research was conducted in partnership with Prof. Richard Wiseman, Professor of Public Understanding at the University of Hertfordshire, and looked at two types of change; change that is imposed on individuals, and change that is brought about by individuals themselves.

The data shows that around a third (35%) of homeowners are comfortable with change that is imposed on them, as long as they 'know exactly how it will affect me'; with over a quarter of people (27%) saying they 'feel nervous' if they don't know how a change is going to affect them. 

Over a third (34%) of people said that they initially feel nervous about change that they brought about themselves, but usually feel happy afterwards, with a quarter (27%) welcoming change, saying 'it's good to refresh every once in a while'.

Worrying about negative consequences, losing a sense of control and finding it hard to break habits were cited as the top three barriers to people wanting to affect change in their lives, whilst one in seven (13%) of homeowners said they didn't have time or didn't know how to make a positive change in their life. 

Only one in 14 (7%) of people prefer change that is imposed on them, whilst the vast majority of homeowners feel a lot more confident if they are in control of any changes, and fully understand how it could affect them. 

2016 may be a year of big changes for British homeowners, particularly if the Bank of England increases the base rate. Last month TSB published a report 'Getting Britain #ReadyForRateRise' which found that one in five (20%) of homeowners had 'no idea' how a rate rise would affect them, despite nearly three quarters (72%) are likely to see their mortgage payments increase if the base rate rises.

Ian Ramsden, Director of Mortgages at TSB, says: "People are understandably concerned about the consequences of change that might be imposed on them. This could be sudden changes in the work place or at home, as well as external changes such as a rise in their mortgage payments. 

"This might well be the case for many British homeowners in 2016, if the Bank of England base rate increases, and that is passed on to homeowners. However people can get ready for a rate rise now so the change doesn't come as surprise. As the research shows, being informed can help people cope with change much better." 

Prof. Richard Wiseman says: "Over half (56%) of people admitted from the off that they think their personality and habits are fixed and can't be changed. This negative outlook is the single, most important barrier to change. 

"We tracked these respondents throughout the research and these homeowners tend to steer away from change.  Homeowners who feel it is not possible to change associate any type of change with hard-work and loss of control, whereas homeowners who are more open to change tend to see it more as a new opportunity and a chance to start afresh." 

The research also uncovered some interesting insight into Britain's ambitions and goals for 2016.

Improving financial well being topped the list as the most desirable change homeowners would like to see in their lives (33%), followed by improving fitness (32%) and increasing job satisfaction (12%). 

Only one in eight (13%) people are considering changing their bank account provider in 2016, whilst even fewer, one in ten (11%), are considering shopping around for a new mortgage lender.

Almost half (45%) of homeowners intend to make a New Year's Resolution in 2016, with May 24th being the average day we give up on our resolution. The research also showed that homeowners over the age of 55 were more than twice as likely to trust their gut instinct when it came to making an important life decision (36%), compared with those under 25 who sought advice from family and friends. 

Prof. Richard Wiseman has provided five top tips for change, to help people affect positive change in their lives in 2016, as well as to help homeowners cope with change that is imposed upon them.

1. Believe that you can change. Thinking that your personality and habits are fixed in stone is the biggest barrier to change.

2. Prepare. Don't just deal with an issue after it has become a problem. Pre-empting a bad habit or situation before it starts is much easier, and if it's a big decision, particularly financial, do your homework.

3. Be resilient. Don't see failure as evidence that you cannot change but rather as a signal that you need to try again.

4. Don't run with the crowd. Don't try and lose weight, read more or stick with your mortgage lender just because everyone else is doing that. Look at all aspects of your life before you decide what to change.

5. Break your goal into a series of steps, focusing on creating sub-goals that are concrete, measurable and time-based.

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Notes to editors

This survey was conducted by OnePoll between 21 December and 24 December 2015. The sample was 2,000 UK adults with a mortgage.

TSB was created to bring more competition to British banking - to be a real challenger to the big banks and to deliver the kind of banking the people of Britain want. TSB only serves local customers and local businesses, to help fuel local economies, because communities thriving across Britain is a good thing for all of us.

We have a simple, straightforward and transparent banking model and make clear on our website how we operate and make money. We offer the products and services people tell us they want, with none of the funny stuff people normally associate with traditional banks.

Our 4.6 million customers, award winning mobile and digital banking, nationwide network of branches and 8,500 Partners mean we are big enough to make a difference, but small enough to be an agile challenger to the entire market.

For further information about TSB Bank plc, please visit our website www.tsb.co.uk.