Mortgages, not more homes, key to increased home ownership

Mortgages, not more homes, key to increased home ownership

The long-awaited Redfern Review has recommended that improved access to mortgage finance and improved income levels for first time buyers are key to increasing the level of home ownership.

Increasing the volume of building may be important, it says, but is of less significance than financial aspects of the housing crisis. 

The Redfern review - commissioned by Labour's housing spokesman John Healey but regarded as an independently-executed assessment of ownership issues - also calls for a cross-party approach to building targets over 10 and 20 years, instead of short-term 'competition' between parties with often-challenging short term housing targets. 

The difficulties in younger buyers accessing mortgages, especially since the Mortgage Market Review, has lowered home ownership by 3.8 per cent in the period from 2002 to 2015, the review claims. This has been worsened by the recent period of austerity which has seen younger would-be buyers' income stagnate. This has in turn reduced home ownership by around 1.4 per cent. 

Controversially, the review dismisses a close link between supply and price.

"New household formation and supply have been broadly in balance over the last 20 years and therefore the significant increases in house prices over that period have not been driven primarily by supply constraints" it says.

Redfern claims that even increasing home production to around 300,000 for one year would reduce prices by only 0.6 per cent; any additional reduction would be countered by the creation of more households.

The review recommends that Help To Buy as it currently stands should be scrapped and that initiatives instead be aimed at first time buyers and encouraging the purchase of lower priced homes than those promoted until by by HTB. 

Redfern also proposes the creation of an independent housing commission "which can own this strategy and take a non-partisan approach to long-term housing decisions".

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