Last week I visited the Poplar Farm site off Barrowby Road, where David Wilson Homes and Bellway Homes are building new houses and selling them as quickly as freshly baked cupcakes.
Twenty years ago, when I was in my late 20s, I bought my first flat. It cost a bit over three times my salary and I had to put down a 10 per cent deposit which was equivalent to roughly four months’ salary. This was difficult – but doable. I will never forget the feeling of closing the door on my own home for the very first time, or of sleeping my first night there. Never have bare floorboards been so comfortable.
Most people in Britain cherish the dream of owning their own home. Yet it has become almost completely unattainable for millions of people in their 20s and 30s. Even after a fall in house prices since 2008, in most parts of the UK they remain very high compared to average wages. And, following the financial crash, mortgage lenders are now much more cautious about lending first-time buyers more than 80 per cent of the value of their first home.
A working couple, both earning average wages, would now need to save for many years to be able to scrape together a 20 per cent deposit on an average home. Unless their parents or grandparents can help them out.
As a Conservative I believe that home ownership is one of the most positive forces in society. It makes for stable families and strong communities. So I would be deeply ashamed if we were to stand by and let home-ownership become the exclusive preserve of a privileged elite.
But I am glad to say that the Government has acted and is offering people who do not have wealthy parents the same chance to buy a property, provided they have a good credit history and can demonstrate sufficient income to service the mortgage and meet repayments. HelpToBuy is making it possible for tens of thousands of people to buy their own home – and is giving housebuilders the confidence to build many more of the millions of new homes that we desperately need.