Housing – A Window On A Broken Society

So more reports of housing woe in the papers today – and still nothing is done.

Latest reports show the decline in home ownership among younger adults who should be first-time buyers. The sad conclusion being that the next generation will be more divided than ever, divided between who owns and who rents property. Also, that our children will be poorer than their parents and substantially poor than their grandparents.

Just as a quiet reminder to the present government – if you don’t own property you will probably be less likely to vote Conservative. It does need pointing out, as the government seems to be missing a lot of obvious and important details recently. Such as the EU has no intention of negotiating away their stated position and weakening their status as an institution. Likewise, Donald Trump has absolutely no intention of offering the UK a quick and advantageous trade deal. After all, if you spend your waking hours on Twitter, you probably don’t have the time or attention span to oversee a trade deal.

New Zealand this week announced a selective ban on foreign companies and nationals buying new properties in New Zealand. This is in response to property prices in some areas, such as Auckland rising 75% in four years.

The only issue with the New Zealand ban is that it is selective – buyers from Singapore and Australia are not included, but buyers from China are. If there is going to be a ban, it should be for everyone, not selective and not discriminatory, that is just common sense. Plus New Zealand has the additional pressure of returning lands stolen from the original settlers, the Māori.

A ban in the UK would be completely unenforceable and too controversial. Besides the UK cannot even manage to reform leaseholds or prevent Crown Estates and the Duchy of Cornwall from exploiting arcane loopholes that belong to medieval times.

The best course of action is to tax any person or organisation that holds multiple properties heavily and to ban property being owned by offshore companies.

The concentration of property (and so entrenched wealth) in the hands of the few will ultimately damage the UK economy. Less money will flow through the economy, and successive governments will see a permanent decline in their tax take. Further, younger people will have fewer reasons to stay and contribute to the economy and pay the bills incurred by their parents and grandparents. After all, if you are aged 25-35+ trying and failing to buy a home you may decide to look elsewhere, Australia and Canada now hold greater prospects for the young.

Finally, we need to stop calling rental properties “affordable”. Renting is not affordable and in the long-term reduces your chances of actually own a home of your own. Affordable is decent freehold homes to buy – nothing more and nothing less.

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