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BLOG: UK is splitting into housing haves and have nots

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04/07/2013
The first-time buyer is the lifeblood of the housing industry, writes Mike Jones of Lloyds Banking Group.
BLOG: UK is splitting into housing haves and have nots

When you think about the UK housing market, the term first-time buyer is always front of mind. Considered to be the lifeblood of the housing market; the first-time buyer is seen as critical to the long term viability of this industry.

Is this a correct assessment? I believe it is. If people cannot get onto the first rung of the housing ladder, those on second and third rungs won’t be going anywhere fast either.

Homeownership is a common goal shared by the majority of people in the UK but in recent years the impact of the global financial crisis has brought about a structural change in it. The Halifax Generation Rent report examined the current perceptions and views of the first-time buyer market and throws some interesting questions at us all.

The report finds the issues currently facing those looking to get on the property ladder are such that there is a danger of it splitting the UK in two, with a division between those who can afford to buy and those who fear they will never be able to own their own home. What will be the social implications of this?

What I found particularly disappointing was that the report highlights mismatch between the desire and perceived ability to buy a home. Although homeownership is seen as advantageous by a majority, many of Generation Rent admit they are not taking the steps they need to purchase their own home. Over 83% are discouraged from applying for a mortgage by the belief that banks don’t want to lend to them.

Surprisingly, whilst one-in-three welcome the various schemes such as NewBuy and Help to Buy and think they will work, 40% are unsure. To my mind this shows that we, intermediaries and housebuilders all need to do much more to demystify the perception that it is impossible to get on the property ladder and highlight the options available to first-time buyers. It’s important that first-time buyers understand their options, find these deals and get the one that best suits them.

So if we don’t get this right, what will happen to society? Unfortunately I don’t have a crystal ball, but what I do know is that there will always be a requirement for some to rent and for others to buy property. Across the industry we need to ensure that we provide our customers with the right information to suit their individual needs and aspirations.

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