Rental sector provides valuable springboard for first-time buyers – Goodall

by: John Goodall, CEO and co-founder of Landbay
  • 09/08/2018
  • 0
Rental sector provides valuable springboard for first-time buyers – Goodall
Homeownership often tops the list of aspirations for young people in the UK – largely driven by an obsession to get a foot on the property ladder.

 

Yet, the UK housing shortage remains a major stumbling block that continues to prohibit many young people from ever being able to own a home of their own.

The reality of owning a home for a young adult appears to be dwindling.

According to a report released by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the chances of a young adult owning a home on a mid-range income (£20,200 – £30,600) has declined by more than 50% in 20 years, from 65% to 27% in 2016.

For some, buying a house is perceived as a limiting option, as it not only ties them down to a particular area but also locks money away into maintenance and legal costs, which could otherwise be spent elsewhere.

What’s more, the increasing costs of rail fares, utility bills, student debt and the rise of house prices themselves means that it’s become increasingly difficult for young people to even start saving towards a deposit.

In fact, the only thing that hasn’t risen proportionately is wages, inevitably leading to a widening gap between today’s young people and the property ladder.

 

Landlords blamed

The buy-to-let market often takes the greatest blame from the government and organisations alike for driving a shortage in residential housing and narrowing availability for first-time buyers. However, landlords increase their portfolio of rental accommodation that they help to support the increasing number of young people searching for more flexible opportunities in the rental market.

There have been many issues at play in the housing and mortgage market and I would argue that it is the regulatory changes, compounded by increased levels of student debt, high house prices and comparatively weak wage growth that are making it difficult for those who want to save to buy a house.

With the growing population of Generation Rent, the private rental sector (PRS) is an essential presence in modern society and, rather than limiting its growth, the government should do more to support landlords so that they can provide a better service to their tenants.

Despite reduced affordability, the government has set up schemes, such as Help to Buy, to address the issues of buying a first home, which have yielded some positive results.

Since 2011, annual lending to first-time buyers grew from £23.8bn to £58.8bn in 2017 – this is almost £10bn greater than the amount lent before the financial crisis in 2006.

Moreover, assuming first-time buyers can get a mortgage, average interest payments as a percentage of income have fallen drastically over the last 10 years, showing how affordability, in terms of being able to service the debt, is better than ever.

 

Economic limitations

Therefore, it is not the PRS that is obstructing first time buyers, but the limitations of their own savings, lower wages against high house prices and the increase in the size of mortgage deposit required, as outlined by the Mortgage Market Review (MMR).

The PRS has doubled in size over the past 15 years and with 20% of all households now in private rented accommodation, the government is beginning to show signs of appreciation for its significance.

However, we have seen a rapid turnover of housing ministers and additional costs imposed on landlords.

These backward steps not only erase any progress made to put pressure on them and the growth of the PRS, but also have a knock-on effect on tenants themselves, who are sometimes forced to shoulder the costs.

Instead, more needs to be done to incentivise landlords to offer better deals for their tenants, such as flexible tenancies, rather than simply ordering them to do so.

As long as landlords provide a high-quality and fair service to their tenants, it should be recognised that they are doing a vital job to meet the needs of an ever-growing Generation Rent.

 

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