East Anglia: Call for housing market shift
06:00 25 February 2013
MORE people need to abandon the dream of owning their own home to bring new property companies into the housing market.
That’s the blunt message of a leading housing think tank as new figures show that the number of new homes in East Anglia continues to slump.
The rate of house-building in the region is only half what it was six years ago but there are still 50,000 people on social housing waiting lists across Suffolk and Essex, according to the House Builders’ Federation. This slump has prompted the British Property Federation – which represents private landlords – to urge a fundamental change in attitudes to housing.
It wants the Government to do more to encourage large-scale investment in privately-developed homes to let – encouraging major financial institutions like pension funds to put their money into major housing developments which would provide long-term housing to let.
Figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government showed that the number of new home starts in East Anglia fell significantly in 2012 – although nationally the numbers increased slightly.
Nationally the number of new home starts in 2012 increased by 1% compared with the previous year. However, in Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex the number of starts fell.
Suffolk also saw a fall in the number of new homes completed.
Despite that, however, there was significant house building in a spine of local authorities running down the centre of the region – Colchester, Babergh, Mid Suffolk and South Norfolk.
The new figures come less than a fortnight after the Home Builders’ Federation produced statistics showing that first-time buyers earning an average salary in the region needed to save for seven years before having enough to put down a deposit on a home.
A spokesman for the BPF said: “The private rental market is dominated by individual landlords with a few properties.
“Elsewhere in Europe you find major investors like pension funds developing homes that are let on long leases. It is perfectly normal for people to rent their homes and only buy property as they approach retirement.”
Woodbridge-based James Neal, from the National Association of Estate Agents, said the market remained much quieter than at the height of the housing boom.
But for people selling “the right home at the right price” there were still buyers about. Many estate agents are now working more on property management in the rental sector – although that could change again if the housing market picks up.
Mr Neal said: “As things are at present I would expect the rental market to increase – particularly as people are waiting until they are about 30 to think about buying their first home.”