Nowhere in the world is the population so fixated with residential property ownership than here in the UK.
The housing market is the prolific talk of the dinner table, the media, the City and economists alike. It’s an epidemic of discussion and opinion.
And that’s nothing new. My grandfather, an estate agent in London during the 1940’s, 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, used to talk of the financial security that is property…. ‘There’s nothing safer than bricks and mortar’, he would extoll.
In my living memory we have seen numerous examples of the ups and downs of home ownership. The 1970’s saw a crisis. The 1980’s a boom. The 1990’s a slow resurgence. Then a boom in the early noughties followed by a massive, catastrophic bust that lasted for four years or so from 2008. 2014 is yet another year that sees frustrations and warnings heighten at the escalation in values, particularly in and around London.
It’s a well-worn theme.
But why do we as a nation focus so maniacally on property purchase? To the extent that it so often comes back to bite us as a consequence?
Britain has an owner occupancy rate of around 70% resulting from a mad, life-long scramble for us all to find a rung, somehow anyhow, on that precious property ladder.
Our embedded cultural mindset that is predicated around the adage, ‘An Englishman’s home is his castle’.
And it’s rubbing off too. The herd mentality of us Brits and its effects has also similarly transformed well heeled middle eastern, Russian and Chinese investors to the extent that they are responsible for over half Prime Central London’s house purchasing. The promise of significant capital growth and a (relatively) stable currency and economy is too hard for this often new found wealth to resist.
In essence we only have ourselves to blame. The ups and downs of the property roller coaster are the effect of us insisting on riding it. Ever faster.