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'Generation rent' faces escalating housing crisis

An additional 1.5 million 18- to 30-year-olds will be forced into the private rental market by 2020, a new report warns.

 

by Victoria Bischoff on Jun 13, 2012 at 00:01

'Generation rent' faces escalating housing crisis

More than a million young people will end up locked out of a ‘badly functioning’ housing system by 2020 unless the government introduces fundamental reforms, a new report has warned.  

The number of homeowners under 30 will nearly halve by 2020, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), with just 1.3 million expected to own their own home.

This means that in eight years an extra 1.5 million 18- to 30-year-olds will be forced into the private rental sector, a further half a million young people will have to stay living with their parents well into their 30s, while the number of homeless young people under 25 is expected to rise to 81,000.

Rental market failing young people

With more people renting – including families, those on low incomes and other vulnerable people who will struggle to compete in the rental market – it is therefore vital that improvements are made to the rental market, said Kathleen Kelly of JRF. Otherwise we risk turning a housing crisis into a homelessness disaster, she warned.

David Clapham, lead author of the report, said: ‘Young people are at a double disadvantage – it takes longer to raise enough for a deposit and their wages are generally lower. But there are simply not enough homes and those we do have cost too much to rent or buy.’

JRF is urging the government to improve the private rental sector, which it claims is viewed by many young people to be ‘unaffordable, unavailable and offering poor conditions’.

Creating sufficient supply and encouraging investment in private rented housing are primary concerns, JRF said, while policymakers also need to consider the needs of tenants and landlords more fully.

‘Many landlords saw mechanisms such as landlord registration or accreditation schemes as burdens that did not offer them any advantages,’ JRF said. ‘An alternative structure of landlord incentives, together with checks and balances around tenants’ interests, would be a good starting point for reform.’

Change needed

JRF added that in addition to increasing supply of private rented housing, the government should also consider the conditions on which it is offered to tenants, including rent levels and security of tenancy.

International evidence indicates that introducing tax breaks for landlords who offer more affordable rents and longer, more stable tenancies will help overcome the problem of buy-to-let lenders being unwilling to support longer-term tenancies within their mortgage terms.

The report comes just days after a Cambridge University study predicted that more than a third of families will be renting by 2025, with just 27% of people living in ‘mortgaged home ownership’ compared with 43% in 1993-94 and 35% today.

Yesterday, meanwhile, Halifax reported that the size of deposits, high house prices and job security remain the top three barriers to home ownership for 'generation rent'. An overwhelming 91% of parents believe the UK's stagnant economy is discouraging first-time buyers.

37 comments so far. Why not have your say?

Anonymous 1 needed this 'off the record'

Jun 13, 2012 at 09:02

Well what did the authorities expect 25% deposits, interest only loans virtually banned by the FSA, house prices still at unrealistic levels, virtually no incentive to save, imorally high taxes on income, wealth and job creation, anti job creation policies

We are back to the 70's where hard working aspirational young people were stuck living with parents waiting years for a council house.

If the conservatives rekindled the dream of a free, low tax, hard working, property owning democracy they might improve their standing in the opinion polls

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Alasdair Walker

Jun 13, 2012 at 11:31

I can only speak from my own experience and that of my friends, and I should point out that I live north of the Watford Gap and can't profess to know the situation further south, but I think the issues are overstated.

As a twenty-something I don't find it tough to find the money to pay the rent; I moved out of home with no financial support from family at 19 earning a relatively low wage and as a result of sensible budgeting and hard-work resulting in a better job I am well on my way to being able to afford to buy a house.

Lenders are offering good rates for high LTVs; rates that have been unheard of for the last five years (sub 4% APR) are available at 90% LTV.

I read the comments of people claiming the concept of saving a house deposit is out of their reach and can't help but wonder how much of this is due to high fixed outgoings, or high expenditure on non-essential items.

It's not rocket science! Save as much as you can afford every month and live prudently. My generation has an unfortunate habit of feeling it's owed something by the world.

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Jonathan

Jun 13, 2012 at 12:17

It would be nice to let the market decide the price of houses but we have the Bank of England butting in with low interest rates. The government butting in with getting Housing Associations to buy houses off people who would otherwise have had them repossessed and then rented back to them at low rent. We have councils lending people deposits for houses and the council (a.k.a. taxpayer) taking the risk if it comes to repossession. We also have building societies and banks not checking if people are really earning what they say they are on mortgage application forms then when the banks go bust because mortgagors can't afford the repayments the taxpayer has to bail mortgagee out. The whole situation is ludicrous.

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Poor pensioner

Jun 13, 2012 at 12:35

If only we could clone Alasdair Walker! The more of your contempories you can convert to your point of view and your values, Alasdair, the better for them and the country. I wish you all the best, though I don't think you'll need anything but health.

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jo soap

Jun 13, 2012 at 13:14

bring back `rent capping` in the private sector.

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graham tremble

Jun 13, 2012 at 13:22

Hi Alasdair,

At last some 'home' truths. It was never easy to buy your own house. Both myself and my wife worked two jobs to ensure that we could save enough for our first house...No nights out or expensive toys. Our first house was affordable because a fire had gutted the kitchen and damaged other areas. When we moved in we had to make do with second hand furniture and appliances. We were by no means the only ones to start this way ...it was 'normal' for our generation to expect to make sacrifices. Too many of the present generation want something without having to wotk for it,

Regards,

Graham.

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Taff

Jun 13, 2012 at 14:33

Well said Alisdair Walker. When did the under 20's ever been able to afford a house? Not in my lifetime. There are plenty of affordable houses to buy in my area of south Wales, they may need refurbishing and a lot of evenings and weekends of toil but they are feasible for any aspiring 20 something.

Too much money is spent on non-essentials like mobile phones, Sky TV and designer rubbish. As for re-introducing "Rent Capping" in the private rental sector; the market will pay what the market will pay. It's called "Self Regulating."

I have done my time of house refurbishment in my time, and suprise suprise I am still doing it some 30 years on after buying my first house to do up.

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electrophotic

Jun 13, 2012 at 15:07

I agree with Graham and Taff - today's younger generation has different priorities than we (over 60's) had, and there are so many distractions for them, but the most determined will rise to the top and become property owners. Sadly, I can see the majority of them house-sharing with their parents for years to come, and any hoped-for inheritance is likely to be reduced or lost on care costs.

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steven fieldfare

Jun 13, 2012 at 16:08

Political will and a culture change in the housebuilding industry could probably solve the problem in short order.

After WW2, the Broughton Wellington bomber factory switched over to manufacturing prefab housing within weeks. There are similar facilities available across the Country today.

With computer design, modern materials and semi-robotic construction, comfortable and affordable homes at variable prices andrents could easily be produced in large numbers.

But is not the truth that vested interests in high priced land and property and wannabe home owners who want cheap housing only in prime locations major drag factors?

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Nick74

Jun 13, 2012 at 16:22

Put in place some decent private tenant protection (i.e. the ability to withhold rent when eg the boiler is broken, windows broken, furniture broken (not by the tenants)) and long term (3 years plus) leases and we should be fine.

All that is happening now is vast number of articles saying "renting due to rise, rents shooting up" and I can see those older folks with capital to spare eyeing the buy to let area and thinking "I'll have some of that" - hey presto, further house price escalation.

NB I own a hosue and earn six figures but I rented privately for many years, as did many friends, and being at the whim of asset controllers (landlords) who only want to maximise return from their leveraged asset, can be very unpleasant.

Finally please do not bring social housing tenants into this, this is about private tenants.

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Striker

Jun 13, 2012 at 17:11

We do Not need more bureacracy and rules where private housing is concerned. Rents should operate in the free market, not be "capped" by some archaic tribunal. There is already too much government interference in the housing market as it is. What we Do need is more choice over how people wish to pay their mortgage (interest-only, pension-linked) smaller deposits and, perhaps, more shared-ownership schemes so that first-time buyers can get onto the property ladder. More interference and control of rents is Not going to help anybody!

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Anonymous 2 needed this 'off the record'

Jun 13, 2012 at 17:26

Try to get out a tenant who choses not to pay the rent .Months and months for eviction (courts, bailifs) and although the court gives you order that tenat must leve and pay for the overdue months, tenant simply moves out, you do not know where ,.often to council or local authority sector when he does not need to produce references from previous landlord.

Tenants are masters, not landlords, and the law and the whole system simply sancions the theft. Because staying without paying is a theft.

Does somebody know how to register this kind of debt with a credit agency?

Thanks.

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Nick74

Jun 13, 2012 at 17:32

I don't see any suggestions to bring in rent caps.

I'm not quite sure what the opposition would be to a rental contract that was 3 years minimum in length and also placed contractual demands on the "landlord" - i.e. a 12 hour SLA to repair a boiler, 4 hour SLA to repair a broken window etc.

The tenants deposit generally (not always, but generally) insures the landlord in the case of damages to the property or contents.

This would have the double advantage of increasing tenant security and also making renting property more of a long term option, rather than the necessarily short term option it is now

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bobs bit

Jun 13, 2012 at 18:26

Many landlords welcome long term tenants, and AST agreements at the outset are meant to protect both landlord and tenant. Continual changes to legislation do not help the private rental sector, it puts pressures on landlords. Many local authorities do not keep their properties in a good state of repair. From my own experience our rental properties are far superior to a council house. Maybe if past governments hadn't sold off the housing stock and spent the money, this country wouldn't be in a such a mess. When I bought my first house we bought an old wreck. Everything was second hand, and we had fun gradually building our home together. Proportionally our mortgage was no different to today, all my salary went on the mortgage. We didn't have credit cards either!!! People expect too much these days.

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dd

Jun 13, 2012 at 20:34

I do think that some young people expect perfection first time round. Wanted ads state: "Brown leather sofa needed. No money due to ......" They don't state that any sort of sofa would do, just to tide them over. It has to be colour co-ordinated. That's fine as an ideal but it makes you wonder just how hard up they are.

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Frankie Dee

Jun 13, 2012 at 20:58

I have read most of these threads above most saying house prices are too high no doubt all homeowners like myself , I must say the only thing that stops we slitting my wrist is the little bit of money I have in my house.

I have to remind you Britain is a depressing country we are all taxed on everything the only thing spared is the bit of profit in our homes if you are that concerned about your son / dauighter not getting their own home remortgage and help them SIMPLE..

I was 31 saving for my first house I sold everything I had I stayed in for two years bought nothing but got my house 75K now 200k I dont feel guilty I rented for 11 years it did me no harm.

I must also point out in Continental Europe renting is normal we are just coming in line with the rest of Europe ALSO if you are prepared to commute and renovate your new home in Britain today you can buy 3 bed properties for 35K watch homes under the hammer but dont expect Kensington or Westminster as for the word homeless are we talking about chavs who's parents kick them out at 16 because the child benefit stops and they cant buy anymore booze with the child benefit. that word is no annoying.

I wish people woukld let house prices find there own way and not talk them down think of the poor sods with negative equity they may lose their homes.

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Nick74

Jun 14, 2012 at 11:23

Lots of stories about how you bought for first houses, didn't go out etc. That's fine, and back then you could afford to buy, but the current problem is that housing has become so expensive that young people can't afford it. I'm sure there are houses for £35k in Middlesborough, but there are relatively few jobs up there - where there are jobs and opportunities then house prices tend to be considerably higher, and as for London, prices are simply unattainable for most.

We're in the middle of a spiral of increased demand for rental properties driving the price of houses up (not many other asset classes are offering ok returns at the moment are they).

If people can't afford to buy, and rents increase, then people will demand higher wages to compensate, causing inflation - remember, housing is not like ANY other asset class, it is not optional like owning a car, everyone has a primary need for shelter.

You may think "Free market economy, supply and demand, if young people spend 50%, 60% even more on accommodation that is fine" however inevitably as this rises up the priority ladder for voters (parents want their kids to have an opportunity, and want the out of their houses!) then we'll move towards legislation.

Any other solutions?

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Nick74

Jun 14, 2012 at 11:27

Anonymous 2

If you take someone to court for non=payment of debt, and the court finds in your favour, then a County Court Judgement is entered against them, which all credit agencies will then pick up.

So no, you can't just kick someone out at your whim, it's appropriate that there is a legal process, but equally if someone owes you money and won't pay you take them to court (very cheap) and lodge a debt against their name - provided you have the real details of the person you have rented your property too then the CCJ stands against them until it is settled.

Remember, landlords very, very rarely "own" a property they tend to "control" it via securitised borrowings,

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bobs bit

Jun 14, 2012 at 11:44

I don't agree that landlords very rarely own a property. Many landlords do own their properties outright. We own all ours.

As for debts of tenants not being traceable, they are. We would NEVER take a tenant without full references and credit checks. I always meet them and speak to previous landlord. There are ways of doing things properly in any business. All the problems arise when things are not done properly. My original comment about the government selling housing stock was the catalyst for many of the problems today.. Mix that with the housing benefits system and we are left with a can of worms.

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steven fieldfare

Jun 14, 2012 at 16:23

@ Nick 74

I did post another solution. Build, and rapidly, substantial numbers of affordable prefab housing on Government owned land. I leave it to the political persuasions of others to argue whether this should be public or private housing (or a mixture).

But the problem of culture remains. It will not be easy to persuade those who own, build or trade in houses; their self-interest is not served by puncturing the high price bubble with a large supply of more affordable housing.

Also, as others have remarked, aspiring purchasers sometimes believe that they have right to cheap property in prime locations. Even in London, my experience was that "omeless and ungry" was a condition found mainly in Westminster and Kensington and less so in Wembley and Haringey.

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Nick74

Jun 15, 2012 at 09:58

Well, a good solution but I suspect it's probably less likely!

Lowest prices I can see for Haringey are around 180k for a 2 bed flat. £20k of savings and a £50k income gets you this, which is well above what most 20 somethings earn,

Ultimately the question for London in particular is whether you believe that the high house prices have been influenced by the explosion of buy-to-let landlords, and if you do agree that buy-to-let has exacerbated the problem for buy-to-live people then what can be done about this.

Measures can be introduced to either limit buy-to-let, or to make letting conditions much more favourable to renters, i.e. long contracts and acceptable service contracts form landlords, i.e. maximum time frames to effect repairs etc.

And for those wanting to reiterate the tired argument about bad tenants - you have recourse to law for damages or non payment of rent that exceed the deposit, tenants have NO recourse to law if you don't fix a boiler in December within 24 hours.

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Nick74

Jun 15, 2012 at 10:07

Bobs bit

in London where the rental issue is most extreme then most small time BTL's are mortgaged. When landlords own properties they rent I find they are much better landlords, and much quicker to repair damages.

NB the issue here is private renting, not social housing and housing benefit, which is a very different issue

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steven fieldfare

Jun 15, 2012 at 11:03

For Nick 74

Your example of Haringey prices perhaps best makes a case for substantial re-start in public housing provision, where the land is provided to Councils cheaply and rent charges regulated to manage controlled subsidence in private rent prices.

Right to buy could be allowed after several years rental residence in an environment where market prices may have fallen to manageable levels or purchase prices could be fixed at manageable levels.

But I agree that a prefab solution is unlikely because of the many vested interests who do not wish to see the high priced property market punctured. That culture is perhaps best exemplified by the BoE, which continues to put its resources into supplying cheap money for cheap loans in fear of the political and social backlash should mortgage costs rise to unaffordable levels and property prices reduce through foreclosures.

But this tactic, achieved by mugging savers of their wealth, has been unsuccessful so far. Today's additional measures have something of an air of desperation about them and the pack of cards may yet collapse. Government led infrastructure programmes may, in the end, be an alternative way out of the morass.

A foreseeable problem with alternative approaches is that stimulated employment and housing programmes are negated by unstoppable immigration from the EU, especially in the South East ie as fast as new infrastructure and housing is started, immigrants arrive to build it and occupy new housing.

In the end, I suspect all this will have to be decided politically and not by market forces alone. We shall see......

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Nick74

Jun 15, 2012 at 12:44

Steven,

London's been a home for either intra-UK (like me) or non-UK migration for several hundred years, and will no doubt continue to be if it's to remain a global hub, so although it seems an easy solution to ban migration I'm not sure its practicable - NB the French population in London has increased by 100,000 in 3 years.

There's a shortage of housing, but there is also competition between buy-to-live and buy-to-let.

Either building more houses or making BTL less attractive such that buy-to-live folks can compete on a more level playing field are obvious options to east the stress.

Ultimately house building is clearly not a government priority, and the private sector are building slowly.

There is place for renting - certainly in my 20s I didn't want to buy a house, I wanted the freedom to explore London, rent and limit my commitments, but I do feel that London is now too dominated by renting, and there are far too many people who want to buy and are priced out of the market due to investors buying up property.

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Dislexic Landlord

Jun 16, 2012 at 08:48

FAOsteven fieldfare

Re Useing factorys to build NewHouseing

I can see where you are comeing from but im not sure you understand the cost of building

can I give you an example I have just removed and replaced a roof 75% of the total cost was matrials and there going up and up

even the costs of a Builers Skip is now double the cost of 5 years ago Land fill cost are going up and up

I have looked at building new houses but the cost is prohibative Land cost a fortune

WE live on an island everyone has got used to chargeing as much as they can for Land with planning permision to build houses on

Even the Councils have jumped on the Band Waggon with Planning departmets chargeing as much as they can get away with

The above is only and example of the real world

At present as a propertry investor I find it easier and cheaper to buy exsisting property that has droped in value since the credit crunch

The property I buy now could not be built for the cost I pay at present

I know the world has gone mad but its been doing that for some time

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steven fieldfare

Jun 16, 2012 at 11:30

This discussion is hotting up!!

First, for Nick 74, I did not intend to take a stand on immigration - one way or the other. I am well aware that South Ken is alternatively known as the 21st Arrondisement and that the new French President campaigned in London!! My point (perhaps not clearly enough expressed) was that new building programmes may only have the effect of attracting cheaper labour from the EU or that reduced house prices in the SE may provide even stronger draw for those seeking investment or employment shelter from the Eurozone. My inclination towards an element of public housing (with later right to buy) in any new building programme was suggested in part to take an edge off competition between buy to let and buy to live, although I agree this problem may remain intractable for some time to come.

Next, for dyslexic landlord, I do indeed understand the cost of building which will never be cheap. But look at what you get for 500K in London and equate this with the cost of other consumer goods, for example a luxury motor for a tenth of the price. The conclusion must be that they are overvalued because of shortage of supply in that location or nearby.

My suggestion for new prefab housing was to deflate this bubble by increasing supply. Costs would be controlled by supplying Government owned land cheaply, perhaps on long lease. Factories to supply prefabricated units already exist in Government controlled assets for example aircraft hangars on recently vacated airfields.

But the problem remains of vested interest and culture. Government Departments want high market prices for disposals to meet short term budget balancing (ie preserve spending programmes). Buyers want to live in prime locations and avoid weekly or daily commuting to jobs; and be particular over schools and jobs. Those in the skewed housing business have no interest in deflating prices, even if carefully managed.

The prize is, however, potentially huge - at last to turn away from an economy fixated on property and loan values and to turn again to production in pursuit of true wealth - a corner Germany is busy defending, where property values are high but stable and national wealth is driven by manufacturing activity.

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Hotrod

Jun 16, 2012 at 12:25

I don't think we need worry to much about the new build sector. In many cases building firms are sitting on land which they bought more than ten years ago. They can re-evaluate the cost per plot to compensate for higher contruction costs, and still market the finished product at a competitive price. Apart from that, these properties form an attractive proposition from a buyers point of view; they will also be easiest to mortgage.

The problems going forward will be mainly concerned with people caught in the middle. Properties which are already heavily mortgaged and require improvements carried out will be very difficult to sell, but first time buyers who are willing to shack up temporarily may find an opening because as the older generation die off, their decendants will be willing to accept lower prices for houses coming from estates which are debt free.

@Steven Fieldfare

Most of the prefabs you refer to have now been demolished. They were only intended as a temporary measure anyway, to house demobilised soldiers and displaced families when WWII ended. However some local councils tried to incorporate prefabricated techniques into the design of permanent housing during the 1950's with disastrous consequences. The problem was that inner panels contained asbestos (toxic) and outer panels were reinforced with low grade steel which oxydised. The resulting expansion of this corrosion caused the panels to crack.

Since then lessons have been learned and prefabrication is indeed a prominent feature of some modern designs. Actual contruction on site takes place by erecting the inner walls first. They consist of oblong wooden frames approximately 8' X 4' bolted together, into which a single pre-cut insulated panel is placed. The frames and insulation have very limited load bearing ability, but the clever bit is that plaster board has been replaced by block board as the outer skins. The cross sectional area of the block board compensates for the lack of studding, which is placed at 16" intervals in a conventional inner wall. I have been watching a block of flats being built in this way. A small team of erectors with a tower crane have zipped it up in next to no time. The outer walls have been prefabricated too. They consist mainly of glass panels contained in steel frames which have been bolted together, there is some conventional brickwork in between but it is mainly for cosmetic appearance. I have been told that flats of this design have the added advantage of very low heating costs.

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Michael Brooks

Jun 16, 2012 at 13:15

We all agree on the cheap affordable housing bit, but this `jack` of a government (as in `i`m alright`), doesnt want to know. Ask Shapps about something like social housing and his face will pucker in distaste. Will it take a visible number of families `on the street` for this sleazeball coalition to take notice. Even then I suspect not. However, I do like the idea of prefabrication, and perhaps some of the designs, criminally never followed through, that were aimed at `key` workers such as nurses, could be adapted for ordinary or family use.

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Jonathan

Jun 16, 2012 at 13:25

I liked a suggestion I heard on question time: Why don't the BOE instead of giving money to the banks give it to housing associations so they can build more homes. That way you create employment and also help solve the country's housing problem. £150 billion would pay for the build cost of 1.5 million detached houses (assuming £100k per house) and the council could provide the land. Also, if the houses were rented out the BOE would stand a good chance of actually getting the money back.

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Bhavesh Sutaria

Jun 16, 2012 at 14:25

Alasdair is a rarity in the youth generation today, and those like him will prosper. Most are mesmerised with the "now" culture, and have never been taught about reality. The marketing culture inbred in today's youth fools them to tyhink they have have anything on credit, as if its an entitlement.

The clever ones will buy now to let, profit now with good rents, and in future with massive asset value increase in next boom cycle, because there will be so much pent up unsatisfied property demand from 25 - 40 year age groups.

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dd

Jun 16, 2012 at 15:43

Attitude of entitlement is in the wording:

"For my gap year, I will ......" That's fine if it includes work .. but plenty don't.

I had my "gap 6 months" between jobs, after having worked for about three years and having saved up to fund the whole thing in advance.

Good luck to Alasdair and all those like him.

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Hotrod

Jun 16, 2012 at 16:14

It seems to me that some people confuse "prefabricated" contruction with "modular" contruction.

In a conventionally built house, 50% of it, is in fact "prefabicated" i.e. Roof trusses, kitchen units, bathrooms units, windows, doors, and porches. Also most of the remaining components are made to industry standard specifications.

Living accomodation which is 100% prefabricated. i.e. Modular. has many disadvantages, and unless planned on a massive scale would cost significantly more.

There are some factories already manufacturing modular constructed houses, as demonstrated on the TV series "Grand Designs"

Starting with that design concept, each room is assembled from pre-made components, where services such as sewerage, water, electricity, gas, TV, telephone, and hi-fi sound system, are pre-installed, and is designed to interlock with connections in the walls of adjacent rooms.

Houses of this type can be delivered on site, and erected in days, whereas conventional contruction takes months.

The problem is that with this degree of pre-planning, there is very little variation in the style and size of each house. It must be accepted that all communities consist of single people, couples, families, extended families, disabled, retired, etc, etc. Modern developments are designed to take these factors into account, therefore a mix of several different designs are incorporated. Also designs can be adapted to suit the particular geographic features of each individual site.

Another problem with modular construction is the degree of precision which each component must comply with. Everything must be made very accurately, otherwise sub-assemblies will not fit together. This leads to more problems when faults develop ,or things wear out. It would be no good going down to your local B&Q for a few bits and bobs to do some DIY. You would most likely have to order replacement parts from the supplier.

Living accomodation to cater for most groups can be built cheaply using timber framed contruction as I described above. But, and it's a big BUT, the risk of fire must be a major concern. If fire was to once take hold, I dread to think what would happen.

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steven fieldfare

Jun 16, 2012 at 17:11

For Hotrod

I comment (positively I hope) on some of your points. While I accept much of what you say about post WW2 pre-fabs, I know of at least 2 streets worth in Swindon successfully re-furbished and going strong. There are others elsewhere.

But as you expertly describe, design, materials and construction have moved on. With adaptable and modular design techniques, there would seem little reason why rapid manufacture and construction could not be focused to local need. Design could be varied in scale and finish to environment and purpose; aimed for BTL, social housing, essential workers, elderly refuge et al. Even upper market owner occupier builds would seem possible (a memorable Grand Design was the rapidly assembled Huf Haus arriving on lorries from Germany complete with building team www.huf-haus.com).

I see a remaining problem with infrastructure and footings. For years, we seem to have added housing to creaking sewage and water supplies; likewise antiquated transport systems drag down the economy. On the outskirts of Cirencester, there is presently a mainly 3 storey estate being crammed in, replete with array of gaudy banners and enticing pleas to buy including provision of deposit. It empties directly onto an already busy roundabout that also contains exit roads to Swindon and the local Tesco Superstore. The only perceivable infrastructure up grade is a foot bridge to allow estate inhabitants to gain access to the Superstore.

That is why I suggested earlier that any lasting solution to housing supply must include shifting away from an economic base resting on property values and their bank finance and turning to wealth adding manufacture. Infrastructure provision as part of rapid and efficient housing programme would seem a way of accomplishing this end.

After all, isn't it time more efficient methods of house provision took hold than bricks and tile methods substantially unchanged since the Romans; likewise, utilities that do not rely on or simply add to Victorian systems? An utilities duct on new estates, running parallel to roads and footpaths, but not under them, would be a good start.

Finally, I agree that a difficult problem would be those owner occupiers in the middle who are heavily or over-mortgaged, especially those who would need to upgrade their homes to achieve sales. But we cannot keep pumping the wealth of others into keeping them afloat. Surely better to direct national investment into new beginnings than continue with present unsuccessful financing of the failed. What matters is the rate at which the present property bubble is punctured by new supply.

As for the homes of the elderly, other forces are at play among an ageing population. I understand up to 40, 000 homes per year go not to inheritance but are swallowed up in care charges. That number can only increase unless, perhaps, other schemes are devised that allow equity transfer into purpose build care accommodation, hence elderly refuge as a listed build focus above.

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ClothKap2

Jun 17, 2012 at 11:01

But al of this has been glaringly obvious for about a year. The government intrioduced afforability cirteria for mortgage repayments, and effectively banned 100% loans. Net resul, yong people who have been paying £1000 a month in rent for years, are being told that they can only afford £500 a month in mortgage repayments..

What happens then is surely very easy to see? The only people who will buy at the bottom end, are those wanting to let. And you set your rent at the highest you can get: (A bit like Nike or Apple, who charge more in the UK than anywhere else in the world because they can)

So the situation today is a direct result of another demonstration of government's inability to think through its hair brained ideas (not unlike the increasingly complicated pasty tax, that will end up costing more to implement that it raises)

And it doesn't help when the banks' idea of competiton is "If they can get away wih screwing their customer then so can we"

Their idea of morality is "If it ain't ilegalt then it's OK, and it aint illegal till the appea; court says so"

and Long term planning is unzipping thier trousers before urinating (PPI anyone?)

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Bhavesh Sutaria

Jun 17, 2012 at 12:34

The social effects of a young generation not being able to afford will be enormous, and i agree, the UK government has no long term plan

The marketing culture is "now", and the emotional culture is "entitlement". The gap between the haves & have nots will increase hugely. When youths sees no hope, and have to live their life, they are driven to do anything, and certain ethnic populations who are deprived or not inclined to educate themselves, will suffer more, and its a timebomb

I don't see how the government can carry on paying benefits to equalise the situation, because they are half bankrupt, and most services, benefits, etc, will be minimised or privatised. Up to now, we all know that half of the benefit claimants are fraud & turn a blind eye, but it keeps equality going, our streets safe and life happier for all. Go to poor Africa, and if you're an expat, the personal risk of robbery or murder are very high, because of desperation and jealousy in the poorest population sectors

We'll see jealousy, fraud, robbery, violent burglary, muggings etc on the rise next 25 years. The police are working with 1 hand tied behind their backs, and life in UK will be very different a generation later on

Mortgage situation wise, the bankers will take advantage of the deep burning desire in us to own our homes. Probably Japanese style 100 year family mortgages payable by 3 generations, just to own a house, and fantastic 100 year high interest rates to fill coffers of bankers

We are so neutered mentally that we think life is fair, we have to play by the law and rules, and can;t even protest properly like the Europeans do, and are the cuckold of any rich nation who bankrolls us. God save the Queen !!

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steven fieldfare

Jun 17, 2012 at 12:51

For Hotrod

TY for the tour de force defining pre-fabricated and modular construction and outlining pros and cons.

I take much of what you say but believe that pros of rapid build and search for lower costs outweigh potential disadvantages. You will recall that the starting point for debate was to suggest an alternative solution to present housing price problems; other than by perpetuating an economy built on high price property maintained through the banking system with soft loans.

While you rightly point out that conventional house builds are prefabricated and standardised already in their components, my pitch is that this has not gone far enough. After 2000 years, faster and better techniques must be possible than prolonged and labour intensive brick by brick assembly on cold and sodden building sites. Automated and indoor construction would seem a better way forward, especially at the lower end of the market where many of the present problems lie and where standard designs may be more accepted.

You point to potential problems with accuracy and variety of construction. I would observe that these problems have been resolved in the car industry, where single production lines often host more than one model or type of car. The aircraft and shipbuilding industries regularly build component parts at remote locations to sub-millimetric accuracy. Why not in the building industry?

I also believe that potential difficulties over replacing worn components and obtaining spares may be overcome; by careful design on access and by large scale which will create its own demand for stocking standard parts within the building supply business. Fire risk using timber framed build, if that is a way to go, is probably over-stated as these techniques are used widely in the US and elsewhere without unacceptable additional risk (unless you include WW2 style fire bombing).

The bottom line is surely that we must have in place say 50 year life builds that sit between a now unaffordable (either to rent or buy) conventional housing stock and temporary shelter in converted portakabins and the like (shown on TV recently) to house seasonal fruit and veg pickers.

As flagged up previously, innovative solutions will be very difficult because of vested interest and inbuilt reluctance to change. After all, wasn't that where UK shipbuilding et al went to?

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Hotrod

Jun 17, 2012 at 16:21

@Steven Fieldfare

Sorry Steven, but I don't buy the pre-manufactured, pre-assembled concept.

If you are totally convinced, why not start by buying yourself a static caravan. They are fitted out with everything a modern home needs and come in a variety of sizes, but the nearest they get to a three bedroom semi-detached conventional house will cost £100,000 or even more.

Static caravans start to depreciate in value the minute they have been purchased because their useful life is so much shorter than a house. (10 to 15 years) Pre-manufactured houses would be very limited in the choice of materials used because of weight limitations. I feel very secure living in a conventional house because there is appoximately six tons of tiles holding the roof on. Very reassuring in gale force winds.

Also I feel that banks would place pre-manufactured houses in the same class as static caravans, and motor-homes, in other words unmortgageable. Finance would have to be arranged on an unsecured basis. i.e. much higher interest rates and shorter repayment terms.

If you want to get some idea of how such a project would develop over a period of twenty to thirty years, take a look at some American websites, especially the one which gives you a grand tour of the suburbs of Detroit.

American houses are mainly timber frame, even the roofs are made from wood in some cases (cedar shingles) but if you look beyond the facade of the front porch and the rocking chair you will find that they are not much better than a timber shed. In the more fashionable locations they simply tear them down and start again every twenty years. They politely refer to this process as "remodelling"

As regards the UK : I don't think house "affordability" is the main problem. The impasse stems from the availability and location of suitable employment. At the moment most of the medium and highly paid work is concentrated in the South, whilst the North has far superior and under-utilised infrastructure. Several Govt. initiated schemes have been tried in an attempt to encourage firms to re-locate in the North, but very few have actually successfully done it. Notable failures have been, Fugitsu, at Newton Aycliffe, Siemens at Silver Link, and LG at Middlesbrough.

I wonder how long it will take before they will be forced to, eventually, because of chronic overcrowding and shortage of water.

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