The Resolution Foundation recently published a report suggesting that one in three millennials – defined as those born between 1980 and 1996 – will never own a home.
Its report forecasted a massive increase in the number of ‘retiree renters’, as the gap between average house prices and what most people can afford continues to rise.
It also put forward some arguably radical proposals to address these issues, such as a three-year cap on private rent increases and ‘indeterminate’ tenancy agreements instead of the six- or 12-month leases usually offered.
These predictions are the inevitable consequence of a traditional approach to housing provision that hasn’t been working for some time now.
I personally welcome the Resolution Foundation’s intervention but we must be careful not to oversimplify the challenges. There’s more to the housing market than buying and renting and, in many ways, increasing choice is as important as boosting supply.
What is needed are more alternatives to the traditional options of expensive private rents that prevent people from saving and mortgages that demand deposits most people can’t afford.
We, as housing providers, need to acknowledge this and put greater emphasis on the options available, such as shared ownership, where there is already huge demand.
Of course it is vital to build more of these homes – boosting supply remains key – but an education exercise is also needed to highlight to people the range of choices available.
Ultimately, the housing challenge we face is as much one of choice as volume. Offering a range of options to suit different needs is the only way to address this.