Almost six in 10 renters believe homeownership is a pipe dream

Michael Lloyd

August 7, 2019

Almost six in 10 (59%) of renters who want to own their home are convinced it is just a pipe dream, the HomeOwners Alliance has found.

Its Homeowner Survey 2019, now in its seventh year and polled by YouGov, revealed 87% of adults and 91% of aspiring first-time buyers said the ability to get on the housing ladder is a serious problem.

Paula Higgins, chief executive of the HomeOwners Alliance, said: “Problems in our housing market have reached a crisis level and government needs to rethink it’s approach by thinking more holistically and longer-term.

“We crave a stable functioning housing market that delivers for everyone – from those struggling to get on to the ladder to those who find themselves at the whim of the leasehold system.

“Our annual survey shows more first-time buyers than ever before reporting their struggle to get on the ladder, demonstrating how government and industry is failing a whole generation.

“Our survey shows that although we are building more, we are not building better – concerns about the quality of our homes are our top housing concern. Meanwhile concerns about problems in the leasehold – freehold system has reached a five-year high.

“Our report also highlights barriers to buying a home, such as the complexity of schemes including Help to Buy. It also highlights issues homeowners face, such as finding reliable builders and the high cost of VAT.

“And it also tells us that we cannot underestimate the importance of people’s homes – they effect everything from feeling secure and safe to our well-being.”

Almost eight in 10 renters (77%) want to own their home.

The fastest rising housing issue in 2019 is the quality of Britons’ homes. Up 6% from 2018, almost two thirds (63%) cite housing quality as a serious problem.

Mortgage issues are among top concerns. The ability to get a mortgage and repay a mortgage are seen as serious problems among nearly two-thirds (64%) of UK adults.

Some 55% of adults cited the cost of stamp duty as a problem, up from 50% in 2018.

With new build quality in the spotlight, there was an overwhelming support for a snagging retention fee. With snagging the least satisfactory step in the new build buying process, nine in 10 (87%) new build owners support a system to withhold funds from house builders until they rectify faults.

Concern with the leasehold/ freehold system reached a 5-year high. Some 60% of Britons now said the leasehold system is a serious problem, up 18% from 42% five years ago. Cost of works and management fees top the list of leaseholder problems.

Some eight out of 10 homeowners hit a brick wall with renovation plans and a third pay cash to avoid VAT. The majority (79%) of homeowners have faced obstacles that delayed home renovations. The main obstacle is difficulty finding a reliable builder (42%).

Almost a quarter (23%) of homeowners are deterred from carrying out improvements because of the cost of VAT. Meanwhile, nearly a third (31%) of homeowners pay cash to avoid the cost of VAT on home repairs and improvements.

London and the South-West are hotspots for housing issues, while housing concerns are generally lower in Wales than other parts of the UK.

The majority of leaseholders (54%) encounter difficulties. High cost of works and management fees top the list of leaseholder problems.

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