I saw a question on Twitter the other day. It asked: “Building new houses on Greenbelt land. Good or bad?”
I responded with ‘Good’. Which may be seen a slightly controversial. It might also seem obvious that I would reply in that way. After all, I run an estate agency, and the more houses that are built, the more houses we have to sell and in turn, the better we will do.
And I suppose to a degree that’s right. But not completely right…
That’s not the main driver behind this opinion. The main driver is because I worry for the future of my children and my grandchildren and how easy (or difficult) it will be to afford to buy a house in this country.
We have a severe shortage of housing in this country, which is only going to force prices up. It is simple supply and demand. Not enough supply, but with plenty of demand from a house-buying nation such as ours, and you will only see prices going one way – out of reach for many people.
It is just crazy to expect a mid-20-something to be able to buy a property for even £150k. They need to save a 10% deposit and then get a mortgage for £135,000. For this, they would have to be earning around £38,000! How many 25 years olds are earning that sort of money?! And they still have to save up £15,000 before they even think about it. That’s fifteen thousand pounds!
We need supply to keep up with demand, otherwise, my children, and your children, will not be able to afford to own their own home. We have to have home-ownership in this country. It’s one of the things that make us tick. And I don’t say that because I will be out of a job if we don’t (if no one was able to buy, then they’d rent and we have a lettings department!). I say this because owning your own home and aiming for the next home, the next step on the ladder, gives people aspirations, a desire to do better and to achieve more, all of which are all key ingredients to helping us and our country move forward, and grow.
And unfortunately (or fortunately), we live on an island and land is at a premium, so we have to use what we’ve got. Of course, we don’t want to ruin our countryside, and I am not saying we build vast swathes of housing developments on our countryside, but I think there has to be a balance between conserving our countryside and allowing future generations the chance to build a solid family life by owning their own home.
The government need to relax planning laws. They need to identify firstly brownfield sites and uninhabited homes. But after they have exhausted these avenues (which wouldn’t take too long), they need to get on with building on land that we have, which will keep prices on a steady upward curve, but not these crazy jumps that I expect to see in the coming years if things don’t change.