First-time buyers who are struggling to buy a house could be given government help to buy a stake in their new home.
Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has announced plans to allow social housing tenants to get onto the housing ladder.
The news comes after a survey by the Halifax suggested that first time buyers cannot afford to buy a home in 92% of towns in the UK.
What do you think of the government proposals? Are you finding it difficult to get onto the property ladder? What action should be taken to help first-time buyers? If you are a first time buyer or estate agent send us your experiences.
This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.
The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we received:
I'll never get on the property ladder. And to be honest, I don't see why I should. I rent, and if I have a problem, I call the landlord and they sort it out. Why get into deeper and deeper debt? It's a false economy, and it's not a suitably stable way to live for most of us. The property market was created to get us to part with huge amounts of cash over many years, and to line businessmen's pockets. Nothing more. It's a cultural requirement to appear as if you are "upwardly mobile", not a life necessity.
Jennifer Hynes, Plymouth, UK
My boyfriend and I are graduates, both in our first jobs and are both a very long way from being able to step on the property ladder. I am likely to never be eligible for social housing, so the latest proposals offer us no comfort at all.
Surely giving the people at the bottom of the rung a hand out is just going to inflate prices even more. If a heavy take burden is placed on 2nd homes and buy-to-let purchases then the price of houses that fall into the category of "first time buyer" will stabilize.
Will, East Sussex, UK
Successive governments must take their fair share of the blame for the mess the housing market is in. The public are repeatedly fed the message that home ownership is the goal towards which we must all strive...why? The financial burdens and worries that it brings to many first and subsequent buyers seems disproportionate for the privilege of being able to say "I'm a home-owner". The introduction of right-to-buy and the freeze on house building imposed on Local Housing Authorities is obscene. Why should Local Council be effectively forced to dispose of its housing stock thus denying future potential tenants the opportunity of affordable accommodation? The solution seems clear to me. Remove the block on local authorities building housing, and allow them to replenish the public housing stock, remove right to buy from these properties and make them available to all those who need it, not just those who can afford it.
So housing association tenants will be able to invest in their property - what about the rest of us? The private tenants who pay more in rent than they would on a mortgage (but can't get one)? This sounds very much like the "right to buy" for council tenants. Not to nag, but the rich can afford housing, the poor get government help, and again those stuck in the middle that get left out - just like with student loans and LEA grants!
The Government proposal sound good on paper but will it take into consideration those of us who have families yet have never been able to afford to get on the property ladder? I am mid 30s with 3 kids and I earn a respectable salary but have never been able to afford property in the town that I live in. Will these new properties the government is proposing to build cater for families or will they be the usual 1 or 2 bed flats suitable for only single people or couples?
Glenn J, UK
I bought my first home 18 months ago. To do this I had to save really hard over the years. Of course it is difficult to get on the property ladder, but has that not always been the case.
James D , Birmingham, UK
I find it thoroughly disheartening that, at the age of 26 I am still living in rented accommodation. Why? because like many I am desperate to "get on" the property ladder, but am currently unable to do so and unless I win the lottery I can see my remaining in my current situation for quite sometime.
Sarah Rafique, Cardiff, Wales
The standard response of smug homeowners is to claim that it was just as tough for them when they first bought - but that's just not true. House prices are at an all time high relative to incomes. Would-be FTBs are not just bleating losers; they are entitled to feel genuinely aggrieved at the current situation. The only hope is that this is just another speculative bubble that will end the way of all bubbles - pop!
Dave, Reading, UK
My husband and I are renting a room in a 2-bed flat in one of the worse areas of our town. We bring in about £15K between us and can't afford to even rent our own place (let alone be accepted by the rental agencies that require you to earn 3 times the rent). So where do we start on the housing ladder? Hope our relatives die so we can have their place? Give up jobs and support networks and move somewhere cheaper (which requires money)?
When the average person stands no chance of affording the average property, the only realistic conclusion is that the market is hugely overvalued. So stop the belly aching, save your money and wait until prices are at a level you can afford. It will happen.
At the age of 33 I fear that I will never be in a position to own my own home. I currently rent with my husband and we are both on fairly good wages, however, with rent and living expenditure there is no way we could save the deposit required to be able to buy our first home. I appreciate the steps the government are planning to take. However, why is it only aimed at council tenants and housing associations? Where is the support for the first time buyers who do not qualify for council homes and benefits? We pay higher rent fees, full income tax rates and receive no benefits at all. However, we are expected to pay all this and still save £50,000 for our own home. The signal being sent out is if you want a home of your own get yourself on benefits!
Angela McGlone, Milton Keynes, Bucks
I'm earning a reasonable £20K, which I'm very glad of, having experienced living on considerably less, but I can't even think of buying a house in my local area as even a house considerably grottier than I can rent will cost me six times my salary, a mortgage no bank in their right mind would consider. Reluctantly, I'm considering making the situation for other FTBs worse by buying to let somewhere more affordable as the only way I can realistically get my foot on the ladder.
Sam Penny, Coventry, UK.
I am 26, I have a Mathematics degree from a good university. I have a decent job with a decent salary of nearly £30k. I am non-materialistic and so I am very careful with my money. So, I must be more than ready to get on the property ladder. Well, maybe in about 10 years...
I am 20 years old and would love to move into my own home but I am starting to get to the point where I think it is impossible! First, the rent on a flat is twice what most people pay for their mortgage per month and second, the government keep saying we have to save money towards our pensions otherwise we will be left short. How on earth are we supposed to do this when we can't even afford to buy a house! What I have to look forward to!
Maybe FTBs should lower their expectations. My partner are low earners in the public sector and bought our first flat in East London (working class, tatty but relatively safe). It cost £126k two years ago and we had no parental handouts. Many of my friends moan about not being able to get on the housing ladder but the truth is that they don't like the fact that the ladder may start in a place without trendy bars and the right postcode.
I currently live in rented accommodation with my wife of 6 months, paying £600 a month for a one-bedroom flat. What me and my wife earn barely covers all of our bills, so we can't save for a deposit/legal fees. And we earn too much to have any chance of getting any home through a Council or Housing Association anytime in the next 3 years, yet do not earn enough to get a home around where I live (a one-bedroom flat costs £140K around here). And I know many others in the same situation and lenders wonder why FTBs are being put off. The way I see it, nothing short of a collapse will mean that I will have ANY chance of getting a home in the next few years.
All this is nothing new. I bought my first house 30 years ago. I had to struggle to save, and struggle even more to pay the mortgage. Without help from my parents I couldn't have done it. Let's have some realism, a house is the most expensive purchase in your life and its not supposed to be easy. In some places it is genuinely next to impossible for first time buyers. Conversely it is necessary to save for a number of years and it is realistic to expect the mortgage to seem crippling. It's not realistic to expect it handed on a plate.
John, Fleet, UK
I am an IFA and I experience at first hand just how difficult it is for first-time buyers to get on the property ladder. There are very few single first time buyers coming to the market, because unless they are on a fantastic salary, then you may as well forget it! I recently helped 3 applicants buy a property together, simply because that was the only way all 3 of them could get on the property ladder in their home town. Three and 4 people buying a property together is becoming more and more popular, as this is proving the only solution for first-time buyers in some areas.
Jason, Wigan, England
What nonsense. Not everyone needs to live in London or the southeast. There are still plenty of towns in the north of England where you can buy houses for less than 50K, even if average prices are higher.
Adam, London, UK
My landlord owns over forty houses, all but one of which he rents out. Meanwhile people like me have no prospect of being able to buy a single home just to put a roof over our heads. It makes you wonder if our great western sytems are as fair and free as we are led to believe! The problem could be solved simply by taxing multiple home owners more heavily. However, as nearly all politicians own multiple homes themselves, they have no interest in solving the problem.
Leon, Winchester, UK
It seems to me that we will be getting into a very odd situation. Rich people will be able to buy property. Those are the very bottom ends of the pay scale will be able to buy - through either discounted council homes or these affordable housing schemes. But what about the mid range earners? Earning around £45k between us my boyfriend and I are not poor in the eyes of the government yet with out outgoings and student loans etc we can't afford a mortgage on a London property let alone a 10% or more deposit in the first place.
Of course I feel for people trying to get on the housing ladder. We struggled for different reasons (in 1992 interest rates were more than double what they are now and thanks to the Chancellor took a brief transit up to 15%) but at least there were cheaper houses around. However, there may be a positive side to this - FTBs will be forced to buy in the cheaper, less desirable areas of the country therefore creating demand in an area where there is currently none - this may encourage local authorities to invest in areas and increase the desirability of those areas therefore pushing the prices up.
Gavin, Brent Knoll, England
Why do these stories in the media always say that first-time buyers can't afford the 'average' house? Of course they can't! When I entered the housing market over 30 years ago I started with what would now be designated a 'starter' home - and by juggling finances, spotting properties with potential and foregoing a lot of luxuries (never having been highly paid), I now have a house worth nearly £1m. However, I do feel for young people who have been saddled with massive student loan debts by this government...
David, London, UK
Of course first time buyers can't afford to buy anywhere. The market is unfairly skewed in favour of buy-to-let investors, who can offset all mortgage interest against rental income. First time buyers have no tax breaks at all. Maybe if we abolished tax breaks for investors in a type of investment that people clearly don't need encouragement to invest in, prices would come down to a level that ordinary would-be home-owners can afford.
Matthew, London, England
I am an estate agent in London. The problem is there are far too many speculators and buy to let Landlords willingly to buy exactly what FTBs are looking for. They have greater purchasing power and are experienced enough to spot affordable bargains. What chance does a FTB have in this competitive market?
Colin Jones, London
This is a situation that was visible on the horizon about 20 years ago. You can't possibly have a housing market that vastly outstrips inflation without ending up in exactly this position. What continues to amaze me is how mortgage lenders can possibly still be forecasting housing market growth (admittedly at around 2%) under these circumstances. The only possible reason they can have for making a prediction of growth is that they are trying to ensure their source of mugs (sorry, prospective borrowers) doesn't dry up.
David Hazel, Fareham, UK
I think the Halifax report is using a poor indicator of first-time buyers' spending capacity. It is comparing average salaries with average house prices, when in fact first time buyers usually buy a much cheaper than average house, and work their way up the ladder in years to come.
Paul, Norfolk, England
We might be able to just about afford a house, if we weren't still trying to pay off the overdrafts and loans acquired whilst being students. Instead we are struggling to save enough whilst trying to cover our rent and pay off our debts. I am sure there are many more potential first time buyers in a similar position up and down the country.
Sarah, Derby, UK
The simple reason for the house price problem is that demand for housing is greater than supply. This is exacerbated by people who 'buy to rent' and lenders providing mortgages for this! The only thing that'll cool the housing market down is an increase in mortgage rate, ideally combined with the return of the old MIRAS scheme which effectively subsidised first homes.
Michael Brand, Leven, Scotland
I refuse to pay the current over inflated prices. House owners will need to drastically reduce their asking price in to attract my attention. I'm happy to sit and wait for the inevitable fall.
Miles Waterson, UK
What a lot of whining, varied only by the types who think second homes have a significant effect (they don't in most areas) or the crypto-racists who want 'non-citizens' banned from buying - thank you, when I sell my home it will be to the highest bidder and I won't look at his passport. When I bought my home interest rates were 11.25% and soon rose to 15% - it was a struggle. Now I have a bit in the bank and I would like to see rates go sky high - it's my turn to benefit.
As a trainee accountant in the West Midlands I am not priced out of the housing market. I am, however, priced out of the market for desirable properties. A house may be affordable but if it is in an area with high levels of crime and social problems then understandably people will not want to put any roots down there. Personally I am waiting for a correction in the housing market, and if that doesn't happen or appear inevitable in the next few years I shall take my skills and future earning power to Sweden, a nation that is far better than the UK at managing its housing.
Matthew, Dudley, England
As a homeowner for nearly 30 years my heart really does bleed for first time buyers these days. I work in the social housing sector and know how impossible it is for young people to afford to buy. A major problem is the buy to let market. Investment landlords are definitely pricing first time buyers out of the market. Not only that but private tenants have no security of tenure beyond an initial six month lease. How can anyone settle down, make plans, raise a family when they don't know where they will be living from one six months to the next?
As a public sector employee earning approx £22,000 a year, I have very little opportunity to get on the property ladder. Private rented accommodation is in excess of £300 per month for a flat and the waiting lists for housing association accommodation is huge. Council accommodation is non-existent. A rhetorical question but how can people who are just entering the market afford to put a roof over their heads?
Mark, Staffs, UK
I'm on a low salary and I have no chance of ever getting onto the housing market, ever. My rent is so high it prevents me from even saving up for a deposit, there are no council houses available at lower rents so I am totally at the mercy of private landlords who keep putting their prices up. I worry what I will do when even my rent rises beyond my ability to pay?
A house should first and foremost be a place to live. The problem is that it's all become far too easy for speculators to buy up anything and everything, thus driving the market ever upwards. It's in the Government's hands to do something about it by imposing some kind of tax penalty on second or third homes. They're not going to do that though because existing house owners aren't going to be happy to see the value of their property fall.
Mark Pearson, Bicester, Oxon, England
With a combined income of £37K we too, are well short of buying a house in our local area. Anyway, perhaps we should accept that perhaps we're witnessing a historic change - a return to mass renting instead of home ownership as it was a century ago. And some perspective, please - this isn't life and death, just an inconvenience in a very rich country.
Steve, Gloucestershire, UK
As always, this discussion depresses me. I live in Cardiff, Wales and the highest paid job I've had paid £10K per annum. I don't stand a chance of buying anything more than a caravan, much less a house! Those of you earning "only" £20Kpa, please bear in mind the millions of us who are trying to build a life on less than half that.
Jai Gomer, Cardiff, Wales
From a northern perspective we struggled to buy our house five years ago and having had a valuation last month (in the supposed slowdown) it had increased in value by over 100%. This now means that we would be unable to afford to buy again if anything unforeseen happened. We are suffering from a ripple effect of Southern home owners moving North to get better deals. It is surprising how many people around us now buy in the North for weekend living and rent in the South for working during the week. This only spells more problems for Northern FTBs who have lower average salaries.
Paul, Yorks, UK
How ironic that this article appears on the day that I have taken my house off the market! I purchased the house for 110k in 2000 and it's now valued at more than double that. We had lots of interest and a few offers only for things to fall flat because people couldn't get the mortgage arranged. Added to the fact that it's located in the 4th least affordable town in the list and it's plain to see how the FTBs will struggle.
Jason S, Twickenham
It is not only the first time buyers who suffer. I am unable to move up the ladder due to the price gap, to the next level. I would welcome a housing market price crash. A 50% drop of the average house price would bring the housing market in line with the GDP real growth that the country has had. The only people likely to suffer are those who jumped on the bandwagon hoping to make a quick buck thereby fuelling the market further. They only have themselves to blame!
Andrew, South Normanton, UK
I am about to buy a house for £190,000. I can only afford it because I saved like mad when I was working abroad and that my parents can afford to give me an early inheritance of £50k. My mortgage is £125,000 and I was lucky to get that. How it is possible for anyone who hasn't been as fortunate as me to buy a house is utterly beyond me.
Dave Hughes, Basingstoke, UK
The house price problem is caused by people switching out of traditional pensions after Brown's raid effectively destroyed the industry and investing in buy to let. The Government has done nothing to protect the first time buyer. They must now hope for a collapse in the market. This same generation has also been blighted by student loans, again by the government. It is time the balance was shifted back in young people's favour or they will emigrate as our children are thinking of doing and good luck to them.
Both myself and my wife work full time in fairly well paid jobs, but we can't afford to buy a home. We can only hope to capitalise on another person's misfortune, such as a repossession. It's a terrible situation which the Government simply does not want to address or take responsibility for.
Dean, Brighton, England
Whilst living at home with parents is sometimes a bit of a grind, first time buyers must appreciate it is the only time in their lives that they have the chance to save massive amounts of money. If a person who earned £20,000 p/a saved even half of that during a 2 year period they would have enough to place a good sized deposit on a property.
Tim Hughes, Camberley, Surrey
I am 40 in March. Due to various bouts of unemployment and full time education in the last 10 or 15 years, I have missed out on buying property. My wife and myself both now work full time in the public sector and receive a salary, with overtime, of less than £28,000 between us. This is not enough to buy. Also, at our age, I feel that any chance to buy has more or less slipped through our fingers.
Mark C, Essex, UK
I earn around about 20K, have no major commitments, but am still living at home at 28 due to it being impossible to find affordable accommodation anywhere. I'm only looking for a small 1 bed flat and those are going for well over 100K. I don't see any hope for a change to be honest, so what can we all do?
Ben, Bristol, UK
Where I live the price of even a tiny studio flat is well beyond my means. For the foreseeable future I don't see how I will ever get a foothold on the property ladder even if prices do fall. I've tried housing associations and the council but all have severe waiting lists. I'm beginning to realise that I will rent for the rest of my life and line the pockets of those more fortunate as always.
Paul S, Suffolk, UK
My parents have just put themselves into debt to put me and my brother through university, My dad is a chaplain so we live in a clergy house and in order to look after my grandmother in her old age we had to sell her huge three bedroom house in Wales, the sale of which did not cover the tiny one bedroom bungalow in Leeds. I finish uni this year and there is no way on earth I can afford to get on the ladder. So I'm going to buy myself a houseboat instead. Most of my friends are going to be living with parents, renting or emigrating.
Why doesn't the government simply impose a large tax on the re-sale of second or third homes etc. This would prevent speculation on the housing market and free up homes for first time buyers. Obviously there would have to be exceptions, for example if property was inherited etc.
Ian Wilson, Bristol
My partner and are 30 and 29 years old and we are living with my parents because we have absolutely no hope of getting on the property ladder. We can only borrow three times our salary which equates to approx £72000 and even a one bedroom bed-sit next to the railway line starts at £90000!!! Hopeless!
Jane West, Chagford, Devon
I have a £60k deposit and earn quite well, but as a first time buyer I'm not going to blow it on an overpriced box which is likely to depreciate as soon as I buy it. With the housing market like this and a looming pensions crisis, there are compelling reasons for young people to emigrate.
I worked in London for 15 years after graduating from university. With the help of my bank in the early 90s I managed to buy a very small house in a rough area of London. I changed my job and had to move to Surrey, and the best I could afford was a small flat in need of significant work. I grew very disillusioned with the South after realising that the price of property had risen much faster than my salary, and if I was to sell my flat I wouldn't be able to afford anything better - I wouldn't even be able to afford my own flat! I'm now a teleworker and have relocated to the North East of England - my home town. I sold my overpriced flat and now own a 4 bed detached house with a conservatory, overlooking countryside but less than 5 miles from Durham. And the price of this house? Ten thousand pounds LESS than my Surrey flat.
Mo C, UK
I'm so pleased to see I'm not alone. I work in local government in SW London and I am shortly moving to the Midlands due to the cost of housing down in the south. It is time for Blair and friends to wake up and face the real problems facing many in the UK.
David H, Kingston, Surrey
We estimate that our house has doubled in "value" since we bought it seven years ago - coincidentally about the same time Labour was elected. I don't care they tell us, an economy in which this happens can't be healthy. It will end in tears.
Alex Swanson, Milton Keynes, UK
With the growth of our city and the inclusion of a university some 6 or more years ago, houses were snapped up for student accommodation which in turn sent our housing prices up by 80% over 2 years. What chance do us first time buyers have of buying property when it's being snapped up and rented out to students. I too am on a 20-25k salary and have no hope of buying any kind of housing within Lincoln. What do I do?
FTB need to realise that starting off in the housing market means sacrifices and this means no going out socialising, no holidays etc. You can't have your cake and eat it. We all struggled to get our first houses so why should you expect it easy?
Kev, UK: This is not about people not being wise with their money this is about ridiculously inflated house prices. These prices are pushed up and up by selfish and greedy individuals out to profit from the misfortunes of others. For me to afford a house would involve a great deal more than just not socialising and cutting out luxuries (whatever those are). It would mean finding about three times my salary!
Dino, Poole, UK
I will never be able to afford a home in my area. I may have to move up North, which means leaving friends, family and the place I've lived in all my life. But short of building thousands of homes in the area so that supply outstrips demand, I don't see how it's going to change.
I live in London and get paid just over £20K pa. This is not enough to buy a property, but too much to see the state helping me. Thus I'm doomed to rent for the rest of my life. If rent was good value, it wouldn't be a problem, but as a flat costs about £200 a week just to rent (similar to a mortgage) this is great for wealthy people owning a portfolio of properties, but very unfair to those who aren't wealthy.
Paul, London, UK
I bought an ex-council house in 2002 for £45,000. I got it valued halfway through 2004 and found it's now worth at least £85,000. With rises like that, it's no wonder FTB can't get a foothold in the market.
Michael, Tyne and Wear
What first time buyers fail to realise, and capitalise on, is that the power is in their hands. The solution to this lies in them co-operating between them and abstaining from the market altogether. Pull out. The housing marketing cannot exist without FTBs who are the fuel. Withdraw the fuel, and those on the bottom rung cannot sell. If they cannot sell, nobody else further up can. FTBs who enter the market at such a ridiculous time have only themselves to blame.
Tom Franklin, London, UK
I believe that we are slowly harmonising with the way things are done in Europe. One aspect is that property prices in Europe are very high and that most people live in rented accommodation. Thus I foresee that 'buy to let' will see a resurgence and gradually people will no longer be able to get on the property ladder and will rent their housing for all their lives. We will see the return of the 'Rentier' class, people whose main income is rental from the properties they own. With relative economic and social stability and historically low interest rates, there is nothing on the horizon to disturb this trend.
Paul Horgan, Bracknell, England
I think UK home owners should be aware of the potential for prices to plummet as well as soar. There's been only limited experience of negative equity in Britain but who knows where the market will be in three or five years? I bought a three bedroom property here in Japan for £70k two years ago which five years previously was worth £250k - a fall of nearly 70% - and that's quite typical of experience outside major cities in Japan. It could just as easily happen in the UK.
Iain, Chiba, Japan
The housing market will fall precisely because first time buyers are locked out. I sold my house last year to get out of the market and my house was bought by a young man who could only buy because his parents re-mortgaged. The estate agent told me that this is becoming more common. But it is a fool's paradise indeed when an inheritance is being gambled on an over-priced housing market. I am sitting on a profit from my move ... his parents are risking their security and that of their son. What sorry times we live in....
Tom Broderick, Turku, Finland
I had to drop out of the housing market about eight years ago, due to redundancy. Since then prices have soared to the point where I cannot afford a property on my £25000 salary. So like many others, I'm waiting the current housing boom out. To correct the situation all that is needed is for the playing field to be made level. Prices have risen so much partly because banks have increased the multiple of salary that they are willing to lend, and partly because of second home buyers and buy-to-letters increasing demand on a limited supply. Cap the mortgage multiple at 4x, charge full council tax on all properties and the problem will resolve itself.
Dave Andrews, Basingstoke, UK
It won't last forever, and on that day people with one home and sensible mortgages will not suffer. If you can't afford your mortgage at 10% interest rate, then you're gambling and you will lose.
Paul Weaver, Twyford, UK
The complete and total impossibility of be able to get a foot on the housing ladder was a major factor in leaving the UK. Here in Australia first home buyers get a $7,000 grant which covers legal fees and stamp duty etc to ease the burden, together with great mortgage deals - all of which is designed to keep the young people in the country.
Paul, Adelaide, Australia
This is the end result of the foolish policies promoted by the government that have meant a virtual end to the concept of councils providing desirable affordable rental housing. Why does everyone insist that home ownership should be a right of everyone? Decent quality rental property (not sink estate) will make living in nice surroundings an affordable reality even for civil servants and teachers.
Kevin, Manchester, England
I have owned my flat for 8 years now in north Wales, but still can't move up. There is stagnation everywhere on the ladder. I would have preferred 15% interest rates as it is only temporary, and I could still get a mortgage on 3.5x my average salary. The economy is actually in tatters when people cannot afford a roof of their own over their head. Thank you Mr Blair and Brown.
Tony Humphreys, Prestatyn, UK
Having been working in Cambridge for more than one year, and expecting to stay for at least 3 or 4 more, I started considering the possibility of buying a house. But after a month of research into banks and estate agencies I reached the conclusion that it was completely impossible even to consider the possibility, unless I searched for a property many tens of miles away from the city. I am a PhD working for the University of Cambridge, with my salary around 25000 GBP per year, and my partner earns around 12000 GBP per year. After realising there was nothing to do, I started searching in Spain, my homeland. And 3 months later, I am buying a house in Spain.
Lucia, Spaniard in Cambridge, UK
I was lucky in that I had redundancy money to pay for my first property, which gave me the deposit on my current house, otherwise I would have no chance of buying a property nowadays.
Neil Small, Scotland
On an annual salary of 13,350 in London, how am I supposed to do anything???? And I work in the civil service!
Alex K, London, UK
Ever since I joined the property ladder more than 20 years ago, we have had this debate. Of course it's difficult for first time buyers - it always has been and probably always will be, but you just have to make adjustments to your way of life to pay for it. It's a question of priorities. Sorry to sound simplistic but I suppose it's because we managed it and we certainly could not have been classed as comfortably well off! Of course you won't be able to start off with your dream home in a dream area but you start where you can and move to better when you can. When I think of some of the accommodation I have lived in my younger days, I shudder and thank God we took the plunge and got into the housing market!
Hope Full, UK
Sorry, Hope Full, but you clearly don't understand what we're facing. I have a slightly above average salary, I believe, and I cannot afford anything in my area. Not my dream house, not an acceptable house, not even a small flat, not in a good area, not in a bad area, I can't afford anything. It's not a case of giving up a few luxuries in order to buy somewhere - the house prices are so high that it can't be done, no matter what I give up. That's what people who wish to buy their first house these days are facing - it's not like it was when you were starting out any more.
Ian, Faversham, UK
I bought my first home last year. Although I earn a fairly good salary, it would have been impossible to buy a decent house in a decent (i.e. relatively safe) area without financial help from my parents. Britain should do what many other countries already do: make it illegal for any non-citizen to own residential property in Britain. Many other countries protect their housing markets for the benefit of their own citizens and we need to start doing the same in the UK.
Christine Berridge, UK