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Tuesday, 11 December, 2001, 10:54 GMT
Have you been priced out of the housing market?
Average earners are still being priced out of the housing market in many parts of the country.
A recent survey issued by the journal Labour Research showed that in 120 out of 171 counties and unitary authorities, purchasing a home was beyond an average man's wage.
Even people who try to buy a property with their partner are often priced out of the market in many areas.
While high price rises are good news for existing property owners, they mean that key workers such as teachers and nurses are often unable to afford to live in the areas where they work.
Are you being priced out of the housing market? What do you think can be done to resolve this problem? Do you feel that the Government should do more to help people on lower income reach the property market?
This Talking Point was suggested by Bruno, UK :
The average house price in the UK is no longer affordable for people working in 'support' professions such as teachers and nurses. They are being forced to live further away from work... With our public transport system being the worst in Europe, why should the less well off foot the bill?
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This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Lucy, London, UK
Live and work where you can afford it. As you advance and earn more money you can then move up the housing ladder. Believe me, when young and first married we rented a one bedroom flat over an appliance store next to a pub and we thought we were in heaven. Little by little our lot improved ans we never asked or received assistance.
I moved to the US for exactly this reason - the notion that the government should "bail" people out at any opportunity. For crying out loud, take responsibility for yourselves. Either a) put up with a good job but rent in a good area; b) get a less decent job in a less desirable area but own the property; or c) stop moaning and get some initiative together to start your own business.
I live and work in the South East as a children's librarian and my wife works in the paediatric department in the hospital. On our joint salary we can't even afford a studio flat. It's not so much the house prices that bother me; it's the way in which our professions are undervalued by the government. The goverment should either raise our salaries to a level that will allow us to stay here or regulate the housing market. My wife slogs her guts out to care for and save the lives of many children where we live - she deserves a salary that reflects her sacrifice to the community she lives in.
House prices in the South-East make owning your own home impossible for the average worker. I worked hard to gain my degree and am currently working in the public sector. It is simply impossible for me to afford even a small flat on my salary - there has to be something wrong somewhere.
Nobody can buy anything, at any price, unless someone is willing to sell it. The people who complain about their village losing its character are often the same ones who willingly sell their own property at a huge profit.
It is extremely difficult and it took me ages.
Today, I have bought my own flat and am re-decorating as we speak.
It is hard and tiresome - perseverance is the key. Keep harassing those estate agents, that's what they're there for!!!
House prices in the South are not too high. Rather, they are at a price set by the market to reflect the excess of demand over supply. This is the market's way of telling people to get out of the South and to set up their homes or businesses somewhere else. If you intervene to lower prices, demand will just rise again until prices are back to where they are today. The answer is not the live in the South.
My town (Chelmsford) in Essex is repeatedly going for city status. The amount of expansion has been alarming and all of this on top of national prices is attracting richer people and forcing up the house price.
I'm single and work for the council and get about £13,000 a year. Even at four times my salary I still cannot afford a simple flat which has an average price of 75 to 78 thousand pounds.
I was born in my village just outside of Chelmsford in the home where I live with my parents. 30 years later I am being forced out of my birthplace because of greedy developers and house sellers.
There is even a development in the north of the town where the house prices start at 1/4 of a million pounds. Ridiculous.
Dave Tankard, UK
My husband earns an above average salary so one would think that we could afford something decent. But we're still struggling to make our mortgage payments on a small semi so that he doesn't have to commute for more than 2 hours every day. No wonder a lot of our friends are thinking of emigrating to Australia or Canada.
Yet more proof that unbridled capitalist greed a.k.a. free market forces is not the answer. Call it Old Labour if you like but the only way the system will change is via government intervention designed to stop profiteering and limit the rates on property-price-inflation, possibly via a tax on excess profit that is so progressive that vendors do better for selling at a lower price.
If the government doesn't take action soon there will be a real lack of public sector workers in the capital. House prices in London are way above the means of many workers. Whilst it would be impossible for the government to reduce house prices, paying public sector workers more would certainly help.
Steve Richards, Gloucester
Whatever the solution is, it isn't going to be the idea of giving subsidies to teachers, policemen, and nurses to buy a house. The long-term solution will find itself: Businesses will be unable to recruit people at levels below "director with stock options" and will relocate to other parts of the country - or to Europe. Lille is a lot close to London than Newcastle, and salaries and house prices there are lower than anywhere in England...
Peter Galbavy, UK
I am in the fortunate position to not have to worry about paying a mortgage though I really feel sorry for all these young people nowadays.
I would much rather pay my money to a bank towards a mortgage than line the pockets of a greedy landlord.
House prices have gone mad, they will no doubt crash at one point.
As things stand at the moment there is no way I can afford to buy a house. The thing that concerns me is that whilst nurses etc may have the possibility of a government loan (which I think on the face of it is a good idea), I, as a scientist who does not earn very much either, will not get that assistance.
Alex Banks, UK, living in Ireland
The solution is to use existing 'social housing' for poor workers rather than
benefit claimants. In the south east at least the 'wealthy' are those who can
get a council/community association house. Then come the 'poor', with incomes
of say 10-20 thousand, who can afford nothing. Then the 'professionals' who can
afford to buy their own house (although in my own case this is still less
luxurious than a lot of council property).
So where do we house those who don't work or failed to save for their
retirement? I'm sure there must be some unused tower blocks up north.
I like Alan De Brun's comment
about not helping people to buy houses
as they can rent! I spend more on
rent and bills than I would do on a
mortgage - an average of about £600
a month. Yet my salary of £17K won't
permit me to buy anything at all in the
Oxford area. I've had to
look for another job because I can't
afford to live or work here and the job I've
been offered is unlikely to be more
than a temporary measure as rents
continue to rise. I'm looking at average
rents of £7,500 a year.
Someone has got to curb spiralling rents
or else pay realistic wages.
Why should we assist people to buy houses? Are there not apartments and houses that they can rent?
If people can't afford to buy, they need to accept the fact.
If I were to suggest that the government provided assistance to buy my holiday home, my car or my holidays - how would people feel about it?
People need to wake up and take responsibility for their own financial future and not expect to be 'bailed-out' by everyone else.
Kate, London, England
I believe that prices will slow or level off but not crash. (I also hope so, having bought a house 18 months ago and spent the profit I made on my flat refurbishing it). But even this will be temporary (Mr Brown is doing a good job overall), so don't wait too long..
I gambled on the housing market during the eighties. I became very rich and then the downturn came. My luxury properties were repossessed by the lenders and I ended living in a bedsit like a poor student. I learned the hard way that a property is primarily for nesting and not just investing.
03 Dec 01 | Business
Workers priced out of housing market
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