The UK faces a housing crisis that means young people in many parts of the country cannot afford to buy a property unless they have a better than modest Lottery win or have featured in Made in Chelsea.
There are many reasons for this. Demand far outstripping supply, as not enough houses are being built in booming cities and towns. The insecurity of renting encouraging more to rent. Rampant NIMBY-ism in rural areas.
What is not fuelling a situation – where a mortgage is now many, many more times the typical salary – is Millennials going on an avocado toast splurge.
While that should be self-evident to anyone with a basic knowledge of the piping hot housing market of recent years, some are not so savvy.
One Australian multi-millionaire suggested first-time buyers are obsessed with the green stuff. “When I was trying to buy my first home, I wasn’t buying smashed avocado for $19 and four coffees at $4 each,” said property developer Tim Gurner, whose comments went down more like a shit sandwich.
And this week, research carried out by estate agent Strutt and Parker put the bellows under the issue by suggesting young people give up six “luxuries” – such as takeaway food – to afford a deposit for a property in five years.
Plenty of people did the maths.
Let’s see: Average house price in London: 1996: £79,000 2016: £488,908 (518% increase) Londoner’s average wage: 1999: £22,487 2016: £36,302 (47% increase) Average deposit today: £96,000 Price of meal deal: £3 260 days X 3 = £780 Years to save for deposit by not eating: 123 https://t.co/S3b3T7xZ9d
November 14, 2017
But at least the Government isn’t falling for it …
In a speech today, Communities Secretary Sajid Javid defended under-30s struggling to get on the property ladder. He told an audience in Bristol:
“What we need now is a giant leap. You wouldn’t know it if you listened to some people. “Even today, I still hear from those who say that there isn’t a problem with housing in this country. That we don’t need to build more. “That affordability is only a problem for Millennials that spend too much on nights out and smashed avocados. It’s nonsense.”
It became a riff. Referring to the typical deposit needed to buy a home in London, he said: “Last year, the average first-time buyer in London needed a deposit – a deposit – of more than £90,000. £90,000! That’s a lot of avocados.”
Which is great, but politicians have been wrestling with the issue for years. A series of initiatives – such as Help to Buy, which allows first-time buyers to provide just a 5% deposit, and a temporary stamp duty ‘holiday’ – have done little to close the affordability gap and arguably helped push prices up further.
The truth is no government wanting to hold onto power would want to oversee a crash in property prices, which is the leveller many are hoping for.
And while 217,350 homes were built in England in 2016/17, a surge of 27,700 on the previous year, housing charity Shelter thinks this remains “woefully short” and that not even a fifth of the new properties are affordable.
No wonder avocado toast seems appealing.