Report: How much of the housing market is affordable?

By: Tristan Carlyon  Published: June 2014


The shape of the housing market is changing fundamentally. After decades of growth, the proportion of people who own their homes is falling. The social sector is shrinking too, with the private rented sector expanding to take up the slack. These changes are not happening through the choice of the people affected – homeownership remains the ideal for many – if not most – people, and few would choose the private rented sector as a place to settle and bring up children.

Summary

Shelter has carried out research which attempts to provide a more nuanced picture of the housing market, by taking a snapshot of the entire English housing market – in this case every property advertised for sale on Zoopla on one day in April 2014.

The data has been broken down to a local authority level to address the variations in earnings and local housing markets mentioned above. The results are certainly shocking, if not surprising, starkly revealing the scale of the problem faced by first-time buyers across the country with the findings most dramatic for London and the southern half of England.

However, the problems are not confined to the south; the results show that affordability problems are found across the country. This is important because as house prices continue to rise, first-time buyers are placed under increasing pressure to either over-extend themselves – burdening themselves with high repayments and making themselves vulnerable to drops in income or rises in interest rates – or to abandon their hopes of owning their own home.

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