Britain’s housing shortage: coming to a swing seat near you?

Rising home ownership was once a staple of post-war prosperity. The increasing number of people owning their own home underpinned not only a burgeoning middle class, but a broader sense of optimism about the future.

A basic kind of social contract also emerged: if you worked hard and saved, you could eventually own a home. Today, while private renting remains so insecure and unaffordable, the stability of home ownership will obviously continue to be attractive for many.

Unfortunately, this social … Read more

Help to who? Can it help the 'right' people?

Blimey. I’m quite used to my policy ideas being roundly abused by one set of people or another – in fact it’s not a bad test of an idea’s salience: if no-one at all is outraged it’s probably a non-starter.

But I’m not sure I can remember a policy that has attracted quite such a thorough a kicking as George Osborne’s Help to Buy mortgage guarantee scheme.

We’ve always argued that profligate lending to struggling households desperate to get on … Read more

What to do about the squeezed middle's housing pressures?

I’m starting to hear a lot about the problem of housing for low to middle income households. Two events this week. One was the launch of housing association Gentoo’s Genie product, which removes the need for mortgages and deposits with a ‘home purchase plan. The second, today, was the Resolution Foundation think tank’s report on how low to middle income households are faring in the housing market.

Policy makers are trying to provide a politically appealing and genuinely affordable offer … Read more

The power of buy to let

Figures out from the Council of Mortgage Lenders today show that buy to let mortgage lending – mortgages for landlords buying property to rent out – has reached a record high. Now £1 in every £8 of mortgage lending goes to buy to let.

The appeal is obvious. It feels like every week a news story goes out reporting rising rents. And, as research by Jones Lang LaSalle found, many subscribe to the “small island” theory – that … Read more

Help to buy – who will it help?

The flavour of today’s Budget was very much helping Britain to be an ‘aspiration nation’. A cornerstone of which was about helping people achieve ‘that most human of aspirations’: owning a home.

That came with a major policy announcement: the Help to Buy scheme – a morphing and extending of existing schemes to boost ownership, NewBuy and FirstBuy.

So who does Help to Buy help then?

Help to Buy equity loan

Formerly known as FirstBuy, the Government gives … Read more

Better homes for those living in them, and those looking at them

Today, RIBA’s Future Homes Commission calls for a revolution in the scale, quality and funding of home-building to fix our broken housing market.

The report’s central recommendation is for a three-fold increase in the number of new homes built every year to over 300,000, kick-started by a £10bn Local Housing Development Fund, which would be financed and owned in turn by local authority pension funds.

Just as importantly, they want the homes built in well-designed sustainable communities of mixed-tenure homes.… Read more

Waiting too long for a stable home

It’s a sad reality that in Britain we get used to putting up with the impact the high cost of housing has on our lives.

We accept having to spend an hour getting to and from work every day as we can’t afford to live any closer to our jobs. We think of the family homes we grew up in with nostalgia rather than aspiration, accepting we are unlikely to live anywhere similar. We pay half our salaries to keep … Read more

Even baby boomers worry about house prices

The Shelter policy team has been lucky to have Mike Smith volunteering with us over the summer. Mike had a long career in finance before looking to move into a policy role, so we’ve benefited enormously from his perspective.

As news reports today show that house prices have risen at three times the rate of inflation over the last decade, Mike reflects on how his generation has benefited…but suggests that perceptions may be changing.

‘Having turned fifty a year or … Read more

We must spend less on housing

The news has been worryingly free of house price stories of late, forcing some papers to fill pages with minor distractions like the Olympics, Leveson and the great summer weather.

Thankfully the IMF has come to the rescue of editors everywhere, with its annual report on the UK economy suggesting that house prices still need to fall by 10-15% now-ish – and by up to 30% to get back to trend.

Inevitably, the response from some quarters will be for … Read more

Has the LIBOR scandal caused repossessions?

If you hadn’t heard of LIBOR at the start of last week, chances are that you have by now. MPs are grilling former banking boss Bob Diamond as I type!

This key interest rate is a measure of how much it would cost banks to borrow from each other. It is used as a benchmark interest rate for trillions of pounds of financial transactions around the world, and last week the FSA fined Barclays for attempting to manipulate it.

Mortgage … 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

To buy or not buy?

What with me leading Shelter’s policy work on the future of the private rented sector, it was a surprise to my colleagues when I told them I was buying a flat. ‘That’s it, you’re out of the private rented sector!’ was Toby’s response.

The thing is, I am fed up with renting. I hate the magnolia walls in my flat, the worn laminate floors, the slope in the kitchen that means the cooker is wonky and one side of … Read more