Grenville Turner, the head of the Countrywide UK’s largest estate agent has again appealed to the government to get involved and see to it that future generations are prevented from being priced out of owning a house of their own.
He said that the UK could become a country of renters after a survey commissioned by the company found out that almost half of 18 to 34 year olds said that the biggest hurdle was to raise a deposit to buy a property.
Turner said that the country was at crossroads for home ownership, and the next generation was in the verge of becoming renters if government did not take the right action very soon.
On an average a home owner moves house once every 25 years which was once every 12 years in the past. It was not sustainable and there was a need to support a strong and vibrant housing market which contributes to GDP growth and plays a major part in improving the economy he said.
His comments came as Countrywide, which has 1,300 offices in the UK, unveiled a poll on the public’s attitudes to the housing market.
The survey of 6,000 people found that of those respondents not moving home, 21% said the reason was inability to afford a deposit, 16% said they could not afford mortgage repayments, and 16% said barriers included moving costs, such as stamp duty.
Only 32% of private rental tenants said they were happy where they lived. Countrywide has claimed that a recovery of the housing market was “fundamental to economic recovery”.
The company has called on the chancellor, George Osborne, to introduce mortgage relief for first-time buyers, to set tough mortgage lending targets for banks and introduce incentives for development projects.
While Countrywide’s position has struck a chord with many, the call has followed a tough period of business for estate agents. Profits within Countrywide’s estate agency business have dropped from £79m in 2006 to £26m in 2010, the last time it published results.
Other surveys suggest there are improvements in housing affordability.
Halifax, now part of the Lloyds Banking Group, said affordability has improved for public-sector workers in the past four years. According to it, a study of five public-sector services found the average worker could afford a home in 41% of the UK’s towns compared with 3% of towns when house prices had touched peak in September 2007.
The study, using figures from the Office for National Statistics, examined the average earnings of nurses, teachers, police, firefighters and paramedics, and average house prices across Britain.
Nelson, Lancashire, was named the most affordable town for public-sector workers, followed by Bootle,Merseyside, and Darwen, Lancashire.
Richard Donnell, the director of research at Hometrack, said: “The rise in private rents has been driven by growing tenant demand and a shortage of supply. With no major improvements in mortgage availability likely in the near future rental demand is set to remain strong. There is however a limit as to how high rents can go as affordability constraints continue to squeeze household budgets.”