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The British Obsession With Property

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http://www.pieria.co.uk/articles/the_british_obsession_with_property

The property-owning revolution of the last fifty years was founded on the concept of individual, rather than shared, ownership: there have been experiments with various forms of shared ownership, but they remain limited and at time exploitative. The vast majority of people wish to own their houses outright. They wish, in short, to own and control an asset.

The owners of assets understandably wish to ensure that the assets yield a positive return: this is as true of property as any other kind of asset. And when housing is seen first and foremost as an individual asset, rather than a basic need common to all, the ownership of housing becomes a zero-sum game. Those who own houses want to ensure a positive yield, but they can only do so at the expense of those who do not own houses.

And yet....with all this emphasis on ownership, we forget about the primary purpose of a house. It is not to provide a high-yielding safe asset for people with wealth to spare. It is not to show to the world how rich you are. It is not even to provide you with a link to your community. It is, first and foremost, to provide shelter. And the fact that 60% of the UK population like the value of their houses to rise means that there are a growing minority whose basic need for shelter is not adequately being met. Reducing housing benefit payments whilst house prices are rising prices people out of rented accommodation, because rentals tend to reflect house prices. The bedroom tax forces people into arrears because of a shortage of smaller properties for them to move into, and because of inconsistent and at times illegal enforcement of the new rules. Homeless people are left with nowhere to go, and overcrowding is becoming more common.

Much is made of the shortage of housing supply. But this cannot be relieved while home owners expect rising prices and the private sector is relied upon almost exclusively to relieve supply pressures. Builders will not build into a falling market: home owners will obstruct developments they believe will reduce their house values. The two combine to prevent us building the houses we need.

If we wish to break this doom loop, we need a resurgence of social housing – both to rent and to buy. We need a return of long-term protected tenancies. We need alternative savings vehicles to break the dependence on property. We need to find other ways of enabling people to feel in control of their finances, their environment and their lives, both now and in the future.

Beyond that, we need to re-think what we mean by “ownership”. Perhaps we could look at limiting individual ownership to a lifetime, just as hereditary peerages have given way to life peerages, so that property cannot be bequeathed. Perhaps we need to reinvent he concept of “family” or “clan” property, enabling whole communities to own and control their own land and property down the generations. Though I am not blind to the problems with this – exclusion on grounds of race and class, for example. There are no doubt better ideas.

But of one thing I am certain. The present arrangements for ownership and control of housing foster inequality, injustice and social exclusion. As we move from a competitive society to a collaborative and sharing society, so our attitude to property ownership needs to change. We need to rediscover and recreate the “commons”.

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Home ownership isnt about return.

Its about carving the kids heights in a door frame, its about walking into a room and remembering that party, that happy time, its about Sunday dinners in that chair in that room, its about where you were when England won the World cup.

Its about having somewhere to lay your aged head when its time to die.

Bankers have perverted and maintain their perversion of what home ownership is about.

Edited by Bloo Loo

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Wasn't (isn't) owning a house (or a bigger house) just a way to 'show off', like having a car rather than a bicycle. A way to show that I'm better off than you.

Didn't the need for houses to rise in value arise because of the want to 'show off' more, and faster than your ability to earn would allow, and latterly, also because the rise in value could fund 'lifestyle'. And, because s*****y houses are a limited supply it is easy for 'owners' to charge more for them.

Edited because HPC doesn't like http://www.thefreedictionary.com/s***** even with a 'y' on the end

Edited by LiveinHope

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The owners of assets understandably wish to ensure that the assets yield a positive return: this is as true of property as any other kind of asset. And when housing is seen first and foremost as an individual asset, rather than a basic need common to all, the ownership of housing becomes a zero-sum game. Those who own houses want to ensure a positive yield, but they can only do so at the expense of those who do not own houses.

What rubbish. People don't buy houses to 'invest' in an 'asset'. People buy houses so they have somewhere to live that can't be taken away from them, and to escape the serfdom of renting. Eviction and homelessness is a real threat for people without a title deed.

Homeowners might have been conned into thinking that rising prices are a good thing, but that doesn't make it true. Most people I know with mortgages are petrified of negative equity - mostly because they paid too much for their house - but flat prices wouldn't do them any harm whatsoever. Except that rising prices are part of the myth of the 'property ladder' - people fail to realise that house price inflation just pulls the next rung higher out of reach.

The wealth effect is nonsense as you can't cash in your house unless you downsize. If you want a pension you need to contribute to one, not rely on someone buying your house for ten times what you paid for it.

These are the things we need to remind people of. Constantly looking for 'alternative solutions' is just apologism for falling living standards.

I do agree that rentals should be run by the council for the benefit of the whole community, and the point about shared ownership being exploitative is absolutely correct. But I don't see how any new 'collaborative and sharing' model would be any less exploitative. Rentierism seems to be so engrained that the minute you don't own your home outright you can be sure that someone will be along to try and extract wealth from you.

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Home ownership isnt about return.

Its about carving the kids heights in a door frame, its about walking into a room and remembering that party, that happy time, its about Sunday dinners in that chair in that room, its about where you were when England won the World cup.

Its about having somewhere to lay your aged head when its time to die.

Bankers have perverted and maintain their perversion of what home ownership is about.

Bankers may have helped enable, but it's also heavily corrupted by many older owners views towards property and wealth.

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Homeowners might have been conned into thinking that rising prices are a good thing, but that doesn't make it true. Most people I know with mortgages are petrified of negative equity - mostly because they paid too much for their house - but flat prices wouldn't do them any harm whatsoever. Except that rising prices are part of the myth of the 'property ladder' - people fail to realise that house price inflation just pulls the next rung higher out of reach.

The wealth effect is nonsense as you can't cash in your house unless you downsize. If you want a pension you need to contribute to one, not rely on someone buying your house for ten times what you paid for it.

These are the things we need to remind people of. Constantly looking for 'alternative solutions' is just apologism for falling living standards.

I do agree that rentals should be run by the council for the benefit of the whole community, and the point about shared ownership being exploitative is absolutely correct. But I don't see how any new 'collaborative and sharing' model would be any less exploitative. Rentierism seems to be so engrained that the minute you don't own your home outright you can be sure that someone will be along to try and extract wealth from you.

Of course it doesn't make it true, but it is a reality that their position is better than many others, and supported by schemes and politics.

They've not been conned into this view. They have it because it often serves them well, especially when they're the ones in this reality owning homes worth hundreds of thousands of pounds and more, and younger people don't.

Why can no one on this site ever accept individuals have any personal responsibility? Everyone's a victim, even if they brag how their homes worth £1m and nimby against others, and call for more social housing for young people to rent as the solution.

We need to remind people who hold a view they're property-wealthy, that they're not actually so much, because their hyperinflated value homes are actually a lot more sensitive to downward change, relying on their being buyers to set prices to maintain values? That is not my responsibility. Let them learn it via a massive HPC. Just as it's not my responsibility to be sacrificed on behalf of those trading up with jumbo mortgages (as they've done for years), because people blameless for taking reckless debt and buying into the clever "property-wealth" paradigm.

Aww how nice, a call for flat prices for a while. Yes the wealth effect is more or less a nonsense, but can MEW (for BTL), and can downsize. That option open to many, even while some on the forum claim there is no incentive for anyone to downsize, accept £1m for their house, and bank hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Edited by Venger

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Bankers may have helped enable, but it's also heavily corrupted by many older owners views towards property and wealth.

by older owners, I assume you actually mean people who have held onto property for a while.

younger owners include inheritance in their calculations for the future too.

It is human nature you are arguing against...you need to forget that as it is a path to nowhere.

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by older owners, I assume you actually mean people who have held onto property for a while.

younger owners include inheritance in their calculations for the future too.

It is human nature you are arguing against...you need to forget that as it is a path to nowhere.

I've got 2 brothers and a sister.

A slice of a future inheritance is no good to me - on a small terrace (although still £250K in this stupid market), and it may go on care-home fees anyway or equity release (I don't care - don't even think about it tbh).

As well as my being an older non-owner; prices got away from me in 2001 when I didn't buy, with the asking price going up. So how is some future inheritance going to sway views of independent adults in their 20s and early 30s? Keep renting for one day, many decades in the future, you will be rich my sons and daughters?

It's human nature that will tilt the balance too. Human nature I'm arguing for. Younger people getting ever senior positions in finance/law. Not on the wages or bonuses or job security as those who went before them.

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What rubbish. People don't buy houses to 'invest' in an 'asset'. People buy houses so they have somewhere to live .

You are assuming that the majority of house buyers want to live in the property. This, increasingly, is a false assumption. Buy to let and second homes are good examples of this. Also I would suggest that a very large number of people do actually see houses as a cash machine, even if it one they live in. I certainly know many people that fit that mounld.

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