Is This Housing Crisis Hack Going To Help You Buy A House?

Some bright spark at a London estate agency thinks they've got it all figured out

Is This Housing Crisis Hack Going To Help You Buy A House?

by Vicky Spratt |
Published on

Never a week goes by in which I am unsurprised that the only people hated almost as much as politicians and bankers by the British public are estate agents. On the other hand, what never fails to surprise me is how seemingly eager estate agents are to further tarnish their profession.

This week, estate agents Strutt and Parker decided to stick their collective head above the parapet of the housing crisis castle in a bid to offer financially embattled ‘Generation Rent’ some advice about how we can all save for a deposit if we really try.

What was this special advice? Does it tell you where to find magic beans that will sprout into magic money trees on the pavement outside your mouldy rented basement flat?

Wait for it. Drum roll….

The ground-breaking advice from Strutt and Parker, intended to help you save for a deposit so you can get yourself out of the rental rat race is…stop buying sandwiches. That’s right guys. The clever old fellows at Strutt and Parker have calculated that if renters stop buying sandwiches and opt to make their own lunch, stop going on holiday and give up nights out they could save enough for a deposit.

Has anyone got déjà vu? A bell is ringing somewhere in the deep reservoir of my mind. I think my brain is calling up the memory of the Australian property mogul who said that young people would be able to buy houses if only they’d stop eating avocadoes.

Once again, those who bear some of the responsibility for the crisis of affordable housing are trying to blame it on those of us bearing the brunt of it. You aren’t stuck in rented accommodation with no living room because of inflation, stagnant wages and greedy landlords. No. It’s because you keep buying Pret’s tuna baguette and enjoy a coffee once a day, which is all you look forward to when you’re showering in your black mould-infested communal bathroom. It’s also because you want to go out after a hard week of work, during which you ate the same roasted sweet potato and quinoa every single day and watched Netflix at night because you couldn’t even afford to go to the pub.

This misjudged publicity stunt from Strutt and Parker is not only ignorant, it’s offensive. This is yet another in a long line of attempts at millennial baiting but, here’s the real kicker, it isn’t just boujis middle-class millennials who can’t afford to buy homes. Families, where the parents are in their late 30s and early 40s, have also been caught by the tailwind of unaffordable house prices. It goes without saying that those hardest hit are, as ever, people on low incomes. With people shelling out, on average, more than two-thirds of their incomes on rent it’s farcical to suggest that giving up the odd sandwich is going to make a difference.

It’s nothing short of Victorian to suggest that living in rented accommodation is to do with anything other than a political, social and economic mess caused by the failure of successive governments to do anything about a housing crisis they could see brewing over several decades. We don’t have anything as coherent as an American Dream in this country but, as a nation, we do like to do a fair bit of self-mythologising. A big part of this centres around the idea that if you do as you’re told, work hard and play by the rules then you’ll be able to afford a home of your own. Never has this been more a work of fiction than of fact.

It might be uncomfortable to acknowledge but it is no longer true that if you work hard you’ll be able to buy a house, affording you and your loved ones’ safety and security. The number of people living in Britain’s private rented sector is close to 5 million and set to rise even more. This is not because they have chosen to live in unstable homes where their landlord could put the rent up at any time. It’s not a lifestyle choice it’s their only choice.

Let’s get this straight, one more time: the fact that people can’t afford to buy houses is nothing to do with sandwiches, avocadoes or takeaways and everything to do with inflation, wage growth and the failures of politicians.

The following facts won’t pay your rent and they certainly won’t help you save for a deposit but they will arm you with information, ready to be deployed the next time someone tries to blame the housing affordability crisis on you and your desire to go out and have a bloody drink every once in a while:

  • Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that the ONLY two places in the country where house prices have fallen in the last ten years are Northern Ireland and the North East.

  • It’s a lot harder to buy a house than it was when our parents were younger because, relatively speaking, our earnings are low in comparison to average house prices meaning bigger deposits are needed. The median price paid for a home leapt by 259% between 1997 and 2016 while earnings rose by only 68% in the same period.

  • Once you’re on the property ladder it’s a lot harder to move up it because there are fewer properties for sale and we aren’t building new ones quickly enough.

  • Even if you can save some money for a deposit or happen to be lucky enough to get help from relatives, it probably won’t be enough. In the wake of the financial crisis, mortgage lenders want bigger deposits according to figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders.

  • The housing crisis is not just ‘a London thing’. Here’s a list of all the places in the country where deposits for first-time buyers are rising faster than incomes and by how much:

a.London, 12 x faster

b.South West England, 12x faster

c.East Anglia, 10x faster

d.South East England, 8x faster

e.West Midlands, 5x faster

f.East Midlands, 5x faster

g.North West, 5 x faster

h.Yorkshire & Humber, 5x faster

i.Scotland, 5x faster

j.North East England, 5x faster

k.Wales, 4x faster

Yep, basically everywhere.

Repeat after me – the housing crisis has nothing to do with what you buy for lunch.

You might also be interested in:

We're Living In A New Class System And It's Depressing As Hell

How The Housing Bill Left Young People Behind

This Is How Much Of Their Incomes Renters Are Spending On Keeping A Roof Over Their Head

Follow Vicky on Twitter @Victoria_Spratt

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us