Home ownership still eludes many

As well as the opportunity to celebrate ticking off another year, birthdays also represent a chance to reflect on what has gone before.

bob_hunt.gif

With Paradigm approaching its fifth birthday, it has been an interesting experience to compare the market in 2007, with the current state of play and observe the differences in lender and broker numbers, product availability, house starts and sales and general economic conditions.

One of the most obvious trends is the decrease in national house prices since 2007 which, with the benefit of hindsight, was the peak of the market. But far from sparking the first-time buyer influx that might have been expected from falling prices, taking that first step on the ladder has become even more difficult due to tight lending conditions, historically low savings rates and negligible salary improvements.

It is this last point that is often overlooked and recent research from the National Housing Federation highlighted the extent of the disparity.

In the past decade, average house prices have risen three times as much as typical salaries, so it is no wonder that homeownership remains a distant dream for many. In real figures, the average house price in the UK has almost doubled to £236,518 while wages have only crept up by less than £5,000 to £21,330.

The chasm between these two variables is the main reason why the housing market remains stagnant and frustrated first-time buyers are finding themselves increasingly locked out of the market.

While there is no magic switch that can be flicked to alleviate the situation, the Government would do well to acknowledge it as the heart of the problem rather than presuming it is funding issues which are halting proceedings.

Anything that can get lenders active again is welcome but it is the difficulty of deposit saving and mortgage affordability that is really putting a spanner in the works.