If I had a pound for every time I’ve been told that moving house is the most stressful thing we do, I would have stopped making my own sandwiches years ago.
Many of us above a certain age can relate to the gut-wrenching reality of stepping on to the property ladder for the first time and realising the enormity of the decision we have just made. This landmark usually follows the tiresome ritual of countless unsuccessful offers, wet handshakes with estate agents who won’t look you in the eye, tedious surveyors and a seemingly endless wait for contracts to be exchanged. Despite all the warnings from our elders, millions of us have made a beeline for the building society in a lemming-like fashion because we believe bricks and mortar is still the best place to invest our cash.
But for how long will that be the case? Last week the Government published a white paper titled ‘How to fix our broken housing market’.
It is fair to say it wasn’t universally well received: big property developers resented the ‘broken’ label being applied to their industry while many were underwhelmed by the proposals to fix the problem.
Two of the headline conclusions were that we are still not building anywhere near enough new homes and that more new homes should be available for rent.
This makes it even harder for young people to become proud homeowners, something borne out by statistics which show that the number of 25 to 35-year-olds buying their own home has fallen by a staggering 30 per cent in the past couple of decades and that half of those have to turn to their parents if they are to stand any chance of finding the, now hefty, deposit required. The Government says we need to see more than 250,000 homes being built every year if we are to avoid a full blown crisis in the future yet doesn’t tell us how we will achieve this. My fear isn’t just whether there will anybody to buy my own home when I eventually come to move into my bungalow near the sea but also how my own children will get on to the ladder. It is my wish that they too experience the sheer misery of buying a house.