Do I need to buy a house?

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1. To buy or not to buy

Owning a home is often portrayed as the dream of every British citizen. However as property prices keep rising, more and more people are finding themselves unable to get on the housing ladder.

In 2014, home ownership fell to its lowest level for more than 25 years, and more than a third of all homeowners are now 65 or over. First-time buyers are getting older and fewer people believe they will ever own their own home. In 2015, research suggested that home buyers in some areas have to save for up to 24 years to set aside a large enough deposit.

Meanwhile, the number of people renting has soared. Should we be looking to the example of other cities like Paris, Berlin and New York, where renting is the norm?

2. A housing history

In the space of a century, we’ve gone from a nation of renters to a nation of home buyers. Josie Long takes us through the history of housing in the UK.

In the current climate, many people have less hope of getting on the housing ladder than previous generations. With current fluctuating property ownership, more people are weighing up the pros and cons of buying a house.

3. Renting vs buying

Tap on different parts of the house to see the pros and cons of renting and buying.

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4. The ups and downs of house prices

Click through the slideshow to see the change in house prices over the last 14 years. Some areas, like Northern Ireland, experienced high peaks and then dramatic falls in prices.

5. Getting on the ladder

If you think you can’t afford to buy your own home, there are some routes that might help.

Shared Ownership

Shared ownership properties allow the purchaser to buy a share of the property (between 25% and 75%) and rent the remainder from a housing association. Purchasers can increase their ownership of the property when finances allow.

Help to Buy

Help to Buy is a scheme launched in 2013 where property buyers are given interest-free loans by the government to top up their deposits. This means they don’t have to save for huge deposits – buyers can often pay just 5%, making mortgages more accessible.

Moving back in with relatives

This option has led to the rise of the “boomerang generation”. For many young people who are fortunate to have families who can support them, their only choice for saving money for a deposit on a house is to move back home.

6. Alternative living

A home doesn’t have to be a house – here are some alternative ways of living from around the UK and the world that are cheaper than buying a house. Click on the picture to explore.

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Help or hinder?

Here are some possible solutions to increase the number of people able to purchase their own homes. But which, if any, is most effective?

Increase housing stock

This is suggested by many to be the only real solution.

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Increase housing stock

Increasing the supply of housing stock is a slow process – the backlog in the United Kingdom is great and will take a long time to rectify.

Make mortgage lending harder

Will increasing the minimum deposit or limiting the maximum borrower income multiples on which banks can lend stop runaway prices?

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Make mortgage lending harder

It will certainly slow down purchasing and hence possibly prices. It will also make it more difficult for the lower income sectors to get on the ladder.

Tighten foreign investment

Restricting investment from overseas may temper price increases in high pressure areas, but could there be a danger it may also restrict new supply?

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Tighten foreign investment

Prohibiting foreign investment in second-hand houses so they can invest in new homes may overcome the issue, along with taxing new homes that are left empty.

Rein in the buy-to-let market

Is the government already applying measures to slow down the buy to let market?

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Rein in the buy-to-let market

From April 2016, buy-to-let investors and second home buyers paid 3% more stamp duty and, in 2017, tax relief on their profits will be lowered.