The evidence from numerous studies and analysts’ reports seems to indicate that Britain is losing ground in the home ownership race. Literally. The percentage of British householders who actually own their residence has dropped rather than risen over the past several years. Observers reporting on the trends are using the term ‘Generation Rent’ to describe the current housing situation.
It has been reported that in areas such as Surrey and Oxfordshire the price of homes valued in the millions of pounds has actually risen by about 3% over the last year. The minority who can afford a large country house are also competitive; according to Knight Frank estate agents, bidding on the most attractive of them is fierce.
At the other end of the housing scale it’s not a matter of prestige but of simple necessity. People need a place to live and there are just not enough affordable homes to meet the needs of would-be homeowners. The National Housing Federation published an analysis and forecast of the UK’s housing market (Home Truths 2012) that showed a rise in homelessness of 26% in the last two years. Rents have gone up by an average of 37% over the last five years, expected to rise another 29% in the next five.
Home Truths also reported an astonishing 86% increase, just since 2009, in the number of British residents who are at least partially reliant on government housing benefits. Even so, nearly 9% of families are on a waiting list for social housing, and in the present circumstances it looks like they may have a very long wait. With the price of rentals in the private sector steadily rising, and a scarcity of subsidized housing, the home-owning future looks grim for a large swath of the population.