Anne Jolis

My generation can’t afford to buy a house in London; so what?

The UK Land Registry today released its latest report on house prises, showing the ticket-cost of an average home in England and Wales down 2.2 per cent to £177,299 in September from a peak of £181,324 in November 2007. No, that still doesn’t mean that underpaid Westminster interns can afford to buy a home in central London. Per the Land Registry, average house prices in the capital rose 18.4 per cent since this time last year.

Cue the New York Times with an opinion article composed by a young writer, cavilling about the matter:

‘Without capital, those of us who do not own property resign ourselves to running in an exploitative rat race. . . . I live two boroughs away from where I was born [in east London], yet I’ll never be able to afford a home.’

Life is hard for young writers following their passions in one of the world’s most expensive cities. But would London be a more fair place if only there were more landlords willing to sell or rent at a loss? The Times writer seems to think so:

‘Where a majority is scrambling to make ends meet, a wealthy minority treats the city purely as an asset base for investment.’

The article was passed to me as an example of an ‘attack on London from New York’, by a Westminsterite colleague. Some chutzpah, he wrote in his accompanying note, from a publication based in ‘a city that isn’t exactly renowned for its cheap real-estate.’

Fair enough; New York has its own problems with housing – thanks largely to decades of rent controls – which are not yet London’s problems, though they could be if Ed Miliband wins next year’s elections and puts in place the rent-controls he’s promised.

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