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Why is it that against the backdrop of ever more successful examination results your child always forms part of the ‘unfulfilled potential’ statistics? Not that I should complain – it just means that we’ll be taking her bedding South rather than North this September. But while her mother and I fret over the enforced rethink of university location, our daughter’s main concern is whether I’m still prepared to consider a buy-to-let property for her now it’s going to be in the South-West rather than the North-East. But at least the parental angst in respect of our daughter’s whimsical and laid-back approach to education means we can temporarily defer our concern over whether she’ll be able to afford to get her foot on the first rung of the housing ladder. At the Tories’ recent first-time buyer summit Stephen Leonard, director of mortgages at Alliance & Leicester, highlighted the plight of today’s young buyers, saying: “As house prices continue to go up and with the rise in the number of home owners buying second homes, young people who want to get on the housing ladder for the first time are finding it increasingly difficult to find affordable housing.” A&L research shows parents today are shelling out an average of 17,500 to help their children take their first step on the property ladder. And at least parents who take this route are more responsible than those who encourage their progeny to become burdened by borrowing based on excessive income multiples – which is a major bugbear of mine right now. I know it must seem awfully pass矢ut I believe everyone would benefit if we exercised more restraint when agreeing borrowing levels. If we were more prepared to say no, even when a computer says yes, then perhaps today’s youth wouldn’t be labouring under the mountain of debt we read about. Instead, the constant raising of the lending ceiling simply fuels the price merry-go-round and pushes the cost of first-time properties beyond the reach of their intended buyers. It makes me wonder when we will see the start of the first-time buyer mortgage mis-selling scandal. Given our propensity to blame others for our own stupid decisions – and the willingness of our regulatory regime to concur with our claims – it is surely only a matter of time before my daughter twigs that not getting the A level grades she wanted was my fault. And by the time she finishes her degree course I’ll probably also be sued if I haven’t provided her with her own house. How big a parental failure am I?