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Mortgage Maze: European attitude to home ownership

Housing experts at the recent HSBC Great Housing Debate pointed to a more European attitude to home ownership.

One of those who attended the Question Time-style debate was David Smith, Sunday Times Economics Editor, who claimed today’s first-time buyers are more burdened now with larger student debt and higher rents.

He argued that as a society we are moving towards a change in attitudes to a more continental approach to ownership.

Mr Dennis Turner, HSBC, agreed adding that first-time buyers who bought starter homes three or five years ago would ordinarily look to sell now. However, some are unable to do so due to negative equity.

And Mr Simon Embley, of LSL Property Services, said many of the current housing problems were due to a lack of mortgage supply rather than less demand from would-be buyers.

Developer Mr Ian Baker, of Linden Homes, added that demand for new homes was ‘significant’.

Mr Matthew Wyles of Nationwide said ongoing worries over job security was another important factor in the housing market.

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Overall the panel was very positive about the future of the buy-to-let market. The combination of falling house prices and rising rents in the private rental sector is delivering a higher than average yield which has increased investor appetite for this sector.

Mr Wyles said: “The buy-to-let market is now a fundamental and important segment of our housing market which offers an opportunity for young people to rent in a very flexible and low risk way. As a lender, we would rather lend 75% LTV on a buy-to-let mortgage to an experienced buy-to-let investor than a first-time buyer at 95% LTV.”


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