“Home ownership is in steep decline, but don’t let it bother you, declared The Economist recently: the British need to get over their property “fetish”. I beg to disagree, says Liam Halligan. The fact that well over half of 25- to 34-year-olds today are locked out of the property market should concern us deeply. Only 41% of those in this “crucial family-forming age” are property owners, compared to 67% in 1991. Even many professional couples in that age group, people who as children grew up in leafy suburbs, now find it impossible to get on the property ladder. And almost a third of 20- to 34-year-old men are still, amazingly, sleeping in their childhood bedrooms. “Such a sudden reversal in generational fortunes, on such a large scale, tears at the social fabric.”
“It’s not just that owning your own home is cheaper and more secure than renting it. It’s that it roots people in their local community; it gives them a stake in the economy through their ownership of capital. A society loses its cohesion when these benefits are concentrated in the hands of an ever more exclusive class of property owners. (Liam Halligan, The Sunday Telegraph and The Week, 1 Feb 2020)
The same problem applies to the US. Yes, in due course parents die and bequeath pleasant homes to their children. But by that time the offspring are in their fifties. The price of housing is a huge problem, and it is unacceptable that younger people should either have to live with their parents for years on end, or pay sky-high, ever-increasing rents on (often) insecure incomes that barely increase year on year. The rich have contrived to inflate land and house prices for their own benefit. Developers in England have been sitting on land formerly public ally owned, now zoned for housing for years, pushing up the value for their own benefit. The government does nothing. No wonder some young people feel their future has been stolen.
I am old myself and ashamed of the inequality and unfairness of a rigged system. No good will come of it. This is a matter both of common sense and equity.