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Economic tracker – Times change and buyers need help

Ian Andrew 2

Post-war rationing and the economic climate in 1948 meant the last time that the Olympics took place in Britain they were nicknamed the Austerity Games.

Times were difficult for large swathes of the country but latest findings by Nationwide suggest – somewhat surprisingly – that those trying to get on the housing ladder back then had an easier time financially than many first-time buyers today.

In 1948, the average home cost £1,751, with a 10 per cent deposit equating to 38 per cent of a typical worker’s wage.

It compares today with the average home costing £164,000 and a 10 per cent deposit equating to at least half of a worker’s annual salary.

Despite what appears to be a small typical annual salary in 1948, it was easier for a buyer to raise a deposit back then.

It is enough to make anyone fall out of love with the property market but demand for bricks and mortar has continued and is reflected in the growth of house prices during this time.

The value of the average home in Britain has surged an impressive 9365 per cent between 1948 and 2012 while incomes have grown at a lower pace – at almost 7,000 per cent.

And any disillusionment with the property market certainly isnot translating itself into how much of our pay packet we are prepared to spend on our monthly mortgage payments, which has doubled since 1948.

The average homeowner currently pays 27 per cent of their monthly income on their mortgage compared with less than 15 per cent in 1948.

So, it could be argued that in many ways, it is now tougher for those wanting to buy a home than in 1948.

But our attitudes towards all things property related have changed dramatically since then. Britons simply did not expect to own a home in 1948 as they do today. There has been a marked shift in the desire to own a home.

Home ownership took off dramatically just a few years later in the 1950s and our aspirations of buying a property have grown steadily since then.

It is perhaps surprising that owning a home is even more of a challenge today, particularly as the average deposit is almost half the annual salary. But average incomes were relatively higher in 1948.

Today, it is more important than ever for lenders to offer schemes that help to make it easier for buyers to get mortgages that require lower deposits.

Last year at Nationwide, we introduced the Save to Buy scheme, allowing customers to save towards a mortgage deposit for between six months and three years.

By the time the scheme celebrated its first anniversary in May this year, we had helped hundreds of customers move into their first home.


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  • david 19th September 2012 at 2:02 pm

    It probably was easier to get a mortgage in 1948, largely because anybody dealing with Nationwide then would not have to put up with their appalling service and pedantic underwriting.

  • Antony Weeks 18th September 2012 at 3:26 pm

    Interesting article. The biggest issue facing pretty much all borrowers today is the reluctance of the lenders to actually lend money to anyone who doesn’t fit within the current ridiculously stringent lending guidelines. To get a good mortgage rate borrowers also have to have a huge deposit, which is impossible to save for on an average wage despite NWide helping apparently “hundreds” of customers. What about the tens of thousands who don’t fit?

  • anon 18th September 2012 at 2:41 pm

    Bearing in mind it is taking Nationwide up to 3 weeks at present to process information to bring clients mortgages to offer. perhaps your time could be better spent in 2012 looking at ways to speed up processing internally which I am sure would be more beneficial to the grand and great grandparents affected in post war Britain.