If you’d worked hard all your life and earned the right to enjoy your retirement in a comfortable four-bedroom home with sprawling gardens, surely it would be pretty tough to have a couple of normally reputable organisations suddenly accuse you of “house-blocking”.
How could they possibly know why you’ve chosen to stay put? Maybe all that extra space isn’t simply wasted, as recent statements by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors and the Financial Conduct Authority appear to have suggested. Maybe it allows you to welcome family and friends to stay, maybe you want to always have space for offspring should their lives hit a crisis, maybe you have pampered pets. Whatever the reason, it’s no one else’s business to be honest. As the saying goes, an Englishman’s home is his castle and what he does with it is up to him.
However, having said that, there are also plenty of people out there who do want to downsize, releasing equity tied up in their property which they can then use to help children with a deposit for their own home or attend university without being saddled with enormous debt. For others, it might be simply because they want a little more liquid capital to do the things they’ve always promised themselves they would…The problem is, with so few new properties coming onto the market – and with house prices being driven higher every month as a result – a nice two-bedroom semi or bungalow in a quite area is becoming an increasingly rare commodity. When one comes up, it’s often snapped up in days and – from our own experience – sometimes even less than that.
Statistics for this year may suggest more new houses have been built in 2015 than in 2014, but it would be interesting to see what type has predominated. Larger homes bring developers more profit so, naturally, it’s not surprising to see so many detached luxurious four-bed homes on the new estates in comparison to the simple, unpretentious two-bed starter home. If we’re going to put this right, people have to come before profits – and there’s the rub.
The Government announced new policies this week promising a million new homes by 2020. Investment from China is also supposed to paying for another 10,000 houses in Manchester, Sheffield and Leeds. But what we also need is an assurance that they won’t all be for well-paid, middle-management executives with the obligatory BMW to park on the drive. We need affordable homes for first-time buyers and for those who, for whatever reason, want to cut their living costs and downsize.
Let’s just hope current Housing Minister Brandon Lewis knows that too …