More and more youngsters are really struggling to get their foot on the housing ladder, and the average age of first time buyers will soon be the same as the average age of retirees.
There is, unfortunately, no simple solution to this issue. There are many contributing factors including the lack of housing stock for people to buy and the fact that prices are just too far out of the reach of these first time buyers on average and even comfortable salaries. If you add to this the problems faced by young graduates trying to save while dealing with ever increasing levels of debt then it’s clear that we have a situation that needs to be addressed.
But it’s not just all about money. We have huge cultural problem with our houses and homes in this country. And it started thirty years or so ago when Margaret Thatcher decided that we all needed the right to buy the houses we lived in. Up until then millions of us would never have considered owning our own home, far less using it as the money making machine that it has turned into for millions more of us.
And of course all of the houses that were sold by local authorities, the vast majority of which were sold at knocked down prices and often quickly sold on again for a huge personal gain, have never been replaced.
That’s one of the reasons there’s a shortage.
A house is somewhere to live, not something to make money from when you sell it, particularly if you’ve done absolutely nothing to earn that cash in all the years you’ve lived in it – and before you start I’m not talking here about the gain you would expect for renovating and improving or extending a house, I’m talking about the expectation of making profits that can run into six-figures sums for doing nothing more than living in a house for a few years.
And it’s all tax-free! We have to pay capital gains tax on the sale of assets that have delivered us a profit but for some reason our ‘main residence’ is exempt from this tax so we can pocket all of the profit we make, or plough it into the next house we buy meaning that we don’t often care how much we have to pay for it because we’re using money that we quite often haven’t had to work for
Maybe it’s time for that to change? Would you support a move to have capital gains tax charged on housing profits if all of the money was ploughed into the building of new affordable homes for first time buyers?