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The Government has implemented a number of measures to increase House Building and getting Housing markets moving.

 


The Government has implemented a number of measures to increase House Building and getting Housing markets moving. Among these are various initiatives to help first time buyers access housing markets and increasing the availability of mortgage funds by the underwriting of loans; providing indemnities to lenders. We have even heard the bizarre idea of robbing the pensions of the elderly to assist with deposits for housing. Broadly these initiatives should be welcomed as first time buyers are the ‘kick start’ that will get the housing market moving again. But what of the potential first time buyers themselves?
 
In the past, what we did was to see property as a ladder upon which to climb, to buy a house and to see it increase in value over the years, while providing the security of a home. It was worth making sacrifices for - two incomes necessary, two cars unnecessary, holidays under canvass, evening jobs in bars, second hand furniture, meals taken from a tin! What we did was roll up our sleeves at weekends to decorate, repair and lay out the garden. Home improvements were discussed over kitchen suppers and notes compared.
 
I do wonder if the young people of today are willing to make the same commitment as we did. Two holidays abroad each year are expected. Mobile phones excessively used. Personal lap tops, personal trainers, personal space and liberal use of bars and restaurants. Skinny lattes have ousted instant coffee. There simply does not seem to be the same willingness to sacrifice, nor to settle down and start a family.
 
What I suspect however is that this could change if first time buyers had incentives.
 
The average home is still far too many times average income. Incomes are not growing in the way they were always expected to when we were young. Subsidy through mortgage interest tax relief disappeared in the late eighties.  The availability of funds for mortgages has been heavily restricted and almost impossible to obtain for the self employed. So perhaps it is true. There has to be an incentive.
 
What if housing associations sold off, not just their best stock but their worst? The ones they can’t afford to improve.  These would be available to first time buyers only and funds provided for 95% mortgages by Building Societies under Government guarantees. Buyers would be required to put their own effort into improving the houses and would have special dispensation under the green deal to insulate and provide energy improvements. The homes would become desirable again through the energy of ownership and the efforts of these young people and they would be rewarded by a higher price when they sold and moved up the ladder.
 
Now isn’t that what we did?

 

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