Housing reform critical and needs to top new Government agenda, says UK’s BSA

At the Building Societies Association (BSA) annual conference in London today, Chief Executive, Robin Fieth, will call on political party leaders to make housing reform a priority for the next Government.  Specifically raising the critical need to:

  • Build more homes across all tenures – 300,000 new homes a year are needed
  • Recognise shared ownership as a tenure in its own right, as an affordable option which offers security of tenure
  • Accept that there will be an increasingly intergenerational approach to home ownership for ordinary people and support rather than penalise or prevent it

Emphasizing this call for action, a new study by the International Longevity Centre-UK (ILC-UK), supported by the BSA, is also published today.  The study reveals that current economic trends such as house price inflation, tighter credit conditions, rising student debt and low real wage growth mean we can expect to see a significant age shift in the customer base of the mortgage market over the next 13 years (to 2030).

The report finds that borrowing into older age is likely to move from niche to mainstream within the next decade. The mortgage market is witnessing a marked evolution away from the ‘traditional route’ of individuals buying their first homes in their 20s, trading up in their 30s and 40s, paying off debt in their 50s and 60s and then entering older age with little or no mortgage debt.

Instead the market is likely to see an increasing number of first time buyers in their late 30s or 40s whose mortgages will be partially paid back from retirement income.  Alternatively, mortgages may be used to fund lifestyle needs or to help children or grandchildren buy their own home.   Currently the amount of mortgage debt held by over 65s is set to increase by more than £19 billion by 2030 (from £20.1 billion to £39.9 billion).

Since the financial crisis, home ownership amongst 20-29 year olds has already fallen from 53% to 38%² and BSA research has shown that 50% of 25-34 year olds believe that they will still be paying back their mortgage in retirement³.  Recognizing these demographic changes, building societies have led the way in raising or removing age limits in lending to older borrowers.  The BSA continues to work with its members and across the wider housing industry. Significant social changes such as people living and working longer and retiring later in life mean that people need more flexibility to be able to buy property later in life.

In response to these societal changes, the BSA is calling for party leaders to commit to build more homes across all tenures and to recognize shared ownership as a tenure in its own right as an affordable option, which offers security of tenure.  Homes of all tenures will be needed if people of all ages are to have a good quality home.

Increasing house prices mean that many individuals can no longer afford to buy alone and so the BSA encourages policymakers to accept that there will be an increasingly intergenerational approach to home ownership for ordinary people, and that policy needs to change to reflect and support this rather than penalize or prevent it.

Robin Fieth, Chief Executive at The BSA commented, “The forthcoming general election is the ideal opportunity for all parties to commit to take action to meet the clear demographic challenge we are facing.   The housing market is crying out for adjustment to reflect what is happening in society. Adapting to the age shift, supporting an intergenerational approach to home ownership and recognising shared ownership as a separate affordable and secure tenure are essential steps.

“It is logical that we should be thinking ahead.  More than 21 million people belong to a building society, together they make up the largest membership group in the UK.  Already one in three new mortgages comes from our sector. We have a positive history and are building a dynamic future. We are about capitalism but capitalism with a social purpose.”

Source: BSA

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