Press Comment: House building slightly on the rise
but average floor space not growing to suit societal trends
15 January 2019
If you are covering the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government statistics about the levels of house building in England, please see the following comment from Gemma Harle managing director of Intrinsic mortgage network, part of Quilter:
"Today’s national statistics reporting the number of new build dwellings in England are unremarkable at best. While it is no doubt positive that the levels of building have increased, they are certainly not evidencing any real step change from the Government which will truly help to ease the housing shortage.
"Just last week the Resolution Foundation found that England has just 825 homes for every 1,000 families, following 20 years of housing stock simply not keeping pace with rising populations. In their report they found that if current building levels of 222,000 homes a year continue it will take until 2036 for the ratio of homes to families to return to its 1998 high point.
"While headline statistics from the report that all new build completions are up 65 per cent above the trough in the March quarter of 2013 and 15 per cent below the March quarter of2007 peak are all well and good, these gradual increase are not enough to abate a rising population with nowhere to go.
"At the back end of last year the Government patted themselves on the back for the supposedly great work that the Help to Buy scheme heralded. Although helping 400,000 first time buyers get on the housing ladder is certainly nothing to turn your nose up at, the picture is less rosy if you look at the broader picture for first time buyers. According to the Bank of England statistics, the share of new lending to first-time buyers remained steady at 21% in Q3 2018, having steadily dropped since the start of last year. If we are to truly start to address the problem of ‘generation rent’ we need to speed up the pace of change with multiple policies, which could include incentivising downsizing. Such a policy might free up existing housing further down the chain and give first-time buyers a better chance of getting their first foot on the housing ladder. However, saying this, building new housing is an essential part of addressing this problem.
"One of the interesting findings in the report was that the floor space of new homes has not changed for the last half-decade and stayed stagnant at around 89m2 for houses, flats, bungalows and maisonettes. This seems odd considering adult children are now leaving the family nest later on in life.
"If the pace of change of new build housing is going to continue to grow at this pace, house builders might want to start increase the floor space of the average new build in a bid to cope with families having to stay put in their properties for much longer. Statistics from property search website Zoopla found that on average, Britons currently move home every 23 years compared to several decades when Britons moved home every 8.63 years. In decades gone by families could move home more frequently and find stock that suited their ever changing needs while today families have to make do and many houses are bursting at the seams thanks to adult children being forced to live at home thanks to a combination of sky-high rents and out of reach property prices."