Older households being priced out of house buying

Older households priced out of buying homesThe Department for Work and Pensions has published the latest update of its Family Resources Survey which reveals that rising house prices have resulted in a significant increase, over the last ten years, of the number of people aged 35 to 54 who are priced out of house buying.

34% of all households are now owned outright, but a third of all home owners have said that, if they were to buy it at today’s house prices, they would be unable to afford the home they now live in.

The number of repayment mortgages held by older (65+) people hasn’t changed, but it has decreased to an average 28% in all other working age groups.  The number of 18 to 24 year olds with a repayment mortgage has reduced from 18% to 7% and from 52% to 33% among 25 to 34 year olds. However, the number of people aged 35 to 54 who have a mortgage has fallen by more than half in ten years.

There may be a number of contributing factors. Many older people have missed out on the financial incentives afforded to first time buyers and, although there has been a decrease in the number of people in social housing in all age groups, people in older age groups are more likely to become ‘accidental renters’ through employment insecurity, mounting debts or relationship breakdown.

Debt charities have expressed particular concern over the rising number of children living with single parents in rental accommodation, which has increased by 119% over the same period. Chief Executive of the Homeowners’ Alliance, Paula Higgins, said:

“People are stretched to the limit and have insecure wages. When they split up, a couple can’t each buy a property in the same area that lets them share the children. The danger of all of this is the social inequality it will create between the ‘haves’ – who are homeowners – and the ‘have nots’.”

The cost of renting social housing (in homes owned by local councils and housing associations, which are controlled by government-set formulae) is cheaper in all UK regions than renting a home from a private landlord. However, the availability of social renting  accommodation has decreased over the last ten years and now accounts for 17% of households.

16 to 24 year olds make up just 18% of social renters, down from 27% ten years ago. The number of older people in social housing (aged 65+) has also decreased, from 23% to 16%.

While social housing has decreased, the number of people living in private rented accommodation has overtaken it and now accounts for 20% of households. The number has increased in all age groups – in the 16-24 age group it has grown from 55% to 73%, in the 25-34 age group from 28% to 46%, and in the 35-54 age group from 13% to 26%.

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