From 'fatally flawed' to 'common sense'

Mortgage regulation might not sound like the most exciting topic, but it’s vitally important. The way in which banks lend money has a huge impact on house prices, social mobility, even homelessness.

In recent years the devastating impact reckless lending can have on people’s lives has been all too clear. You have to borrow a lot of money to get a foot on the housing ladder and if you can’t afford to pay it back, you may face losing your … Read more

Boom, bust and the West Wing

Toby’s been referencing Dickens in his recent blog post, so here goes with another policy lovers favourite cultural reference; the West Wing. The fictional US leader President Jed Bartlet was renowned for his economic expertise and prudence. But looking back now, he was, like most other people, somewhat optimistic about the state of the economy and about housing in particular. “Home-ownership levels are higher than they’ve ever been!” he would merrily retort at critics of his policies.

Sadly, the state … Read more

Big houses and baby boomers

Baby boomers have had a bit of an image problem lately. The ‘boomer’ generation born in the post-war period is (by and large) prospering after a prolonged period of economic growth (data geeks might want to refer to this (£) fascinating graph by the FT).

Younger generations, meanwhile, are increasingly fed up: fewer good jobs and pensions, and an unaffordable housing market that holds them back.*

It’s almost universally acknowledged that soaring house prices played a major role … Read more

Guest blog: Ipsos MORI and RIBA report - It’s not all about quantity
Guest blog: Ipsos MORI and RIBA report - It’s not all about quantity

Long before working at Shelter, I had a bugbear about balconies. Yep, balconies. In my first few flats there was no little patch to grow plants, hang the washing up or just sit in the sun with a drink. That may sound petty, but whenever I see a new block of flats going up with measly little windows and no access to outside space, I want to scream.

Ben Marshall is Research Director at Ipsos MORI.

We can all think … Read more

Guest Blog: Renting is the only game in town

There are signs all around that the housing market is changing. I’ve lost count of conversations with friends about how they’d like to buy a place but just can’t. When I walk down my local high street I see a huge number of estate agents but not a lot of choice: homes that are either crazy expensive or have ‘NO DSS!’ signs emblazoned in the windows.

Here, our guest blogger – the excellent Kathleen Kelly – reflects on two pieces … Read more

5 reasons why cutting housing support for young people is a bad move

We’ve just finished watching David Cameron’s major speech on welfare reform. In case you missed it, he is proposing that housing benefit should no longer be available to under 25s. It’s already kicked off a wealth of comment, with Conservative Home asking whether this a bold way to cut down a burgeoning benefits bill, or a political gamble that could ‘re-toxify’ the Conservative brand.

Here are five good reasons why cutting off this support could hold back … Read more

Broken from top to bottom

It’s widely accepted that England has something of a two speed housing market. The narrative usually goes like this – in London and the south east, real estate is as much an investment as a home, creating a frenzy of competition between investors, foreign buyers, commuters and local residents that bump up house prices.  Further north, house prices are falling, with low sales, higher numbers of empty homes and worrying pockets of high housing debt.

The natural conclusion … Read more

Guest blog: Reshuffles, ‘dither’ and nimbyism

New ministers and a fresh new package of announcements – it’s been an exciting couple of days in the housing world, although I was saddened to see that the PM and DPM didn’t don hard hats and high-vis vests this morning, as is customary when announcing anything to do with house building…

Here, our guest blogger Ben Marshall of Ipsos MORI takes a closer at the politics and public opinions behind the recent announcements, and asks whether the culture of … Read more

Why the UK isn’t Spain…

Sure, sure we’re not as good at football or sunny weather as our Iberian neighbours. Here, I’ll argue that our property markets are pretty different too, and that the Spanish example of a devastating property meltdown, partly precipitated by over-building, shouldn’t put us off building more badly needed homes in this country.

We need more homes. That’s not a totally straightforward statement – yes there are some empty homes that could be better used, and no, more homes alone … Read more

Renters: unregistered and unrepresented?

It’s the time of year when my council sends round letters to check that we’re registered to vote. Happily, I’ve been renting my flat for a while and confirmed our names on the register with minimal fuss.

As the political world gears up for a by-election in Corby and a Bill on electoral reform wings its way through Parliament, the letter did get me thinking about how many of my neighbours – a somewhat transient bunch – had done the … Read more

Rhetoric and reality at the Conservative party conference

The last few dodgy canapés binned, the stalls packed away and the nation’s tired looking journalists and politicos heading back home; yesterday was the final day of the Conservative party conference 2012. Despite a worrying return to the idea of cutting off housing benefit for young people, I think there has been some good news for housing.

I was struck by how much Conservatives ‘got’ housing. Members and activists could see the potential for housing as a key way of … Read more