The world of property buying and renting has changed dramatically in the last 6 years.
According to a report by Communities & Local Government’s English Housing the number of households living in rental accommodation has grown by 1 million in the 4 years from 2.4 million in 2005/06 to 3.4 million in 2009/10. Halifax estimate that the number of first-time buyers coming onto the market in 2011 was 187,000 – the lowest since records began in 1974. It is also less than half the peak of first-time buyers in 2006 of 402,800.
While these statistics may seem depressing, our European neighbours are fairly used to having a higher percentages of the population living in rental accommodation. According to The Economist in Switzerland only 29% of housing is owner-occupied, in Germany its 42%, whilst in France the figure is 55%. The current 69% owner-occupied accomodation in the UK may be dropping, but it is still second highest in Europe behind Ireland and Italy
Commenting on the Government’s new Housing strategy released at the end of November David Cameron said that he wanted to make “the dream of home ownership” a reality for more people rather than move Britain towards a European model of renting more homes. The plans include tax-payer backed 95% mortgages, a £400m scheme to re-start 16,000 stalled new home builds and £150m to refurbish some of the 700,000 empty homes across the country. Critics argue however that the plans fall short of delivering the estimated 250,000 additional houses needed each year to keep up with demand. The question therefore still remains – will the UK become a nation of renters or will an Englishman’s home still remain his castle. . .