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Wannabe homeowners are losing hope, finds survey, revealing over 250,000 abandoned the dream last year

The housing crisis is taking its toll on aspiration, with over a quarter of a million people confessing they’ve given up on the dream of owning their own home in the last year alone.

This loss of hope is a stark finding in the HomeOwners Alliance’s (HOA) latest Homeowners Survey, conducted with BLP Insurance, and it’s the first time since the survey began five years ago that a decline in the aspiration to own has been found.

In 2013, 65% of non-homeowners aspired to homeownership, with this number increasing every year and peaking at 73% in 2016. But this year, the HOA said, the numbers have fallen for the first time, back to 71%. This equates to around 253,166 people across the country who have given up on ownership in the past 12 months.

According to the HOA, the statistics mirror the rise of the Government’s flagship Help to Buy programme launched in 2013 and is now receding with the cancellation of the mortgage guarantee part of the scheme in 2016.

House prices, saving for a deposit and availability of homes are the biggest sources of concern, the survey found, and these are worsening with time. Among aspiring first-time buyers, 86% say house prices are their most serious concern (up 3% in the past year), with 85% citing saving for a deposit as a serious problem (up 1%) and 80% worried about the availability of homes (up 2%).

The findings also reveal a deepening housing crisis, with concerns rising in nearly all areas of the country. London is suffering acutely, but the problems are not contained to the capital. While Londoners are the most concerned with house prices (87% saying that they are a problem), this is also echoed in Wales (87%) and the East of England (85%). Similarly, availability of housing is a concern for Londoners (81%) but slightly more people in the South West (82%) also stated that it was an issue in their region. Elsewhere in the country, concerns were about being able to re-pay a mortgage, particularly in Yorkshire & Humber (68%) and Northern Ireland (68%).

“The HomeOwners Alliance has been tracking views of consumers for five years now, and these latest findings show that the housing crisis is deepening across the UK. This in turn is impacting on people’s aspirations to get on the property ladder. While we are used to stories about people not being able to buy a home until they are 40, the story has taken a turn for the worse with people increasingly giving up altogether on the dream of homeownership,” said Paula Higgins, the HOA’s chief executive.

“While aspiring homeowners’ concerns about house prices, saving for a deposit and housing supply grow, the change in political rhetoric around homeownership and a lack of new homes being built in the last year, plus the removal of flagship government schemes like the Help to Buy mortgage guarantee, appear to have had a negative impact on consumer attitudes. People are feeling less optimistic about their chances of buying their first property.

“With the election approaching, it is vital that housing is placed at the forefront of the policy agenda and that whatever party is elected, it takes serious steps to address the growing concerns of aspiring homeowners.”

Kim Vernau, chief executive of BLP Insurance, added: “The housing crisis is worsening across the country. We are failing to deliver the numbers of homes required as a direct result of a lack of SMEs to develop over and above the numbers provided by the large house builders. The recent housing white paper from the Government proposes a wide variety of recommendations to the market for consultation, to address issues with planning and resource, with a distinct shift away from focusing solely on home ownership. This is a tacit acknowledgment that not everyone will be able to own their home.

“It is important that post the election result, the provision of housing is seen as a critical requirement and the results of government consultations prioritised into action. In the absence of this, the opportunity for aspiring new home owners to get on the housing ladder will only continue to deteriorate.”

There was some good news among its findings, the HOA said: Concerns are receding on issues such as negative equity and the ability to move up the housing ladder. Some 42% of UK adults say they are concerned about negative equity, compared to 44% last year, 49% in 2016 and 64% in 2014; after a steady increase in house prices. Alongside this, concern about the ability to move up the ladder has softened, down 4% in the past year to 58% (compared to 65% in 2014).

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