This article describes the estate agency rent surveys (EARS) which are organised in the European Union Member States, presenting background information and a link to published reports.
These surveys are done in the context of the wider work done to compare the relative cost of living of international civil servants between their place of employment and that of Brussels, the reference city.
Because of the importance of housing costs in the overall expenditure of a household, specific rent surveys are carried out annually through estate agencies.
The EARS are carried out in collaboration between Eurostat, the International Service for Remunerations and Pensions (ISRP) at the OECD and the National Statistical Offices. Rent prices are collected around mid-year for precise types of accommodation in pre-selected neighbourhoods. Example survey guidelines are provided as an appendix to the methodology manual ‘Intra-EU correction coefficients for Article 64 purposes DOC A6465/15/59rev’.
The dwelling type definitions have been developed by the experts and refined over many years, and have been approved for use by the working group on Articles 64 & 65 of the Staff Regulations. The neighbourhoods are carefully selected to reflect actual and potential choices about residential neighbourhoods, and are reviewed each year for example using information about actual choices of expatriate international officials, choices by comparable local professionals, location of international schools, proximity to work premises of expatriate international officials.
For each dwelling type, the information obtained is combined with information derived from similar surveys in earlier years, to establish a six year moving average value. This is then used to determine the difference in rental prices for the same type of property by comparison to Brussels. Because the approach is harmonised, results can also be compared with each of the other locations where the survey is carried out. The rent price for each dwelling type is combined to produce a weighted arithmetic mean rent price, using dwelling type preferences as weights. The dwelling type preferences are identified from periodic surveys amongst expatriate international officials in each location (or a grouped average if there are insufficient responses for an individual location).