Given the restrictions on space and availability of housing the higher demand for City living is feeding through into a relentless rise in the cost of residential property. Hong Kong is one of the world's major financial centres. Mainland Chinese investors have boosted demand on the island, propelling it to top slot in the list of the world's most expensive places to buy a residential property. In the UK, most people have a mortgage which is a loan provided to purchase a property over a certain period of time. Mortgage lending is the primary mechanism used in many countries to finance private ownership of residential and commercial property. The UK government has launched a number of initiatives to try to boost home ownership with a particular focus on helping first time buyers. The difficulties in buying a property in the UK, coupled with a shrinking number of affordable houses, is prompting a substantial shift towards private renting.