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The housing ladder
Looking in an estate agent's window
The Housing Ladder

House prices have been booming - but where are you on the housing ladder?

Britain is obsessed with house prices. Over the years, Panorama has charted that obsession.

With the help of previous Panorama contributors who have taken us into their homes, this programme reviews the rise and rise of the housing market and asks: who's sitting on a fortune - and who could be about to lose one?

prices over the last five years have probably doubled

Richard a Brassard, Battersea estate agent
At the top of the ladder are those who own in places like London's Battersea.

Local estate agent, Richard a Brassard (who first appeared on Panorama 16 years ago) tells us that "prices over the last five years have probably doubled".

On the bottom rung are desperate first-time buyers.

'Out of control'

Norwich prices are going up by 60 a day.

One young couple in booming Norwich tells the programme they "would work 24 hours a day if that would help get our first home".

Tracey Hill and Andrew Reeve
Tracey Hill and Andrew Reeve look for a house in Norwich for under 90,000
In the last six months, with a maximum budget of 80,000, they have not found anything worth looking at for less than 100,000. The market in Norwich, they say, "is out of control".

One Norwich estate agent tells Panorama that some clients are "putting in offers on properties without even viewing them".

In the south east especially, the housing boom is said to be damaging businesses and vital services. They cannot get staff because of the lack of so-called affordable housing.

In the north, prices are also rising in desirable areas, with parts of Leeds and York experiencing some of the highest increases.

Going for a song

In other parts you can hardly give houses away.

digger demolishes house
In parts of Salford the housing market is stagnant.
Britain's average house price might be more than 100,000 but in some northern areas you can pick up a terraced house for as little as 5,000.

Incredibly, at a time of national housing shortage, there are plans in some parts of Manchester and Salford to move people out of their homes so that their streets can be knocked down. No-one wants to live there.


The housing bubble has been growing exponentially.

And it may end up bursting before the jargon of "affordable housing" becomes a reality for some key workers.

Suggestions to build on green-field sites put locals up in arms, but the House Builders Federation tells Panorama that the government is going to have to direct local authorities to release green-field sites.

Otherwise, "the housing crisis, and we do have a crisis on our hands, is going to get worse.

"Over the next five to ten years we will see housing become the crisis that we now have with the Health Service and with the railways, unless the government is prepared to do something to change it".

Meanwhile, the cost of borrowing is at its lowest for decades and there are more households than houses.

Can we go on with a property boom and a housing crisis, or is the bubble about to burst?

Production Team:
Reporter: David Lomax
Producer: Rabinder Minhas
Assistant Producers: Kate Harrison, Calum Walker, Khevyn Raj Limbajee
Editor: Mike Robinson

BBC Panorama's David Lomax
"These people are camping in the hope of getting their feet onto the housing ladder"
Estate agent Richard a Brassard - 16 years on
"In the last five years we've probably seen a 100% increase in house prices here"
Homeowner Rupert Band - three years on
"If I was going to buy to let now, I would have to think very carefully about doing it"
Homeowner Bhavini Chohan - three years on
"Some people look at it as an investment but certainly not me, it's not my cup of tea"
Homeowners the Felthams - seven years on
"There's always this thing that are the house prices going to crash down..."
The Housing Ladder


Do you think the housing market will crash?



1447 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

Visit the BBCi newly-launched property site for a wealth of information on buying, selling and moving
Buying, selling, moving with BBCi

See also:

29 Jun 02 | Business
Housing boom to last 'another year'
Links to more Panorama stories are at the foot of the page.

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