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Comment: we shouldn’t have to bank on mum and dad to buy in London

PUBLISHED: 17:57 02 May 2017 | UPDATED: 10:35 03 May 2017

What's the cost to social mobility when over a quarter of property purchases require help from richer family members?

What's the cost to social mobility when over a quarter of property purchases require help from richer family members?

AndreyPopov

With so many first time buyers forced to turn to family over financial institutions we have to face the fact that London property prices are stalling social mobility

They prop you up your mum and dad, Larkin might have penned at the news that the euphemistically named bank of mum and dad (innocuous acronym ‘Bomad’) is the ninth biggest ‘mortgage lender’ in the UK. 26 per cent of all property transactions are funded with a parental loan, with 40 per cent of all property in London bought with financial assistance from a family member.

The report from Legal and General can’t find the will to spin these numbers as anything less than dire. “This is not a good thing, nor is it sustainable or equitable” says Nigel Wilson, chief executive of L&G.

If this is the earthquake that’s shakingthe flimsy foundations of social mobility, the tsunami is soon to follow. A survey from Royal London estimates that 65 to 85 year olds own £400 billion worth of property and are set to hand it down to their children and grandchildren when they die. Steve Webb, policy director at Royal London decribes it as “a wall of housing wealth set to cascade through the generations in the coming years”.

Even if you get top grades in school, get in to a good university, get more top grades, move to London, get a job and rent a flat even remotely close to your office you still won’t be anywhere near being able to afford a property. Unless your parents are wealthy enough to step in, probably because they themselves own their home, property ownership will remain out of reach.

This is not to demonise those parents and grandparents who naturally want to support their loved ones. There’s even the argument they should be paying. They had the free education, the wages that you could live off and property that was actually affordable.

But the system is so utterly, truly twisted that no one stands to win except the very privileged few.

Perhaps these stomach flipping statistics will finally put paid to condescending hot takes penned by baby boomers easing their guilty consciences by suggesting us millennials would be able to afford a deposit if only we’d stop frittering away our money on lattes and avocado on toast.

If I had a pound for every time a well meaning older person advised me to get on the property ladder well, I still wouldn’t have a deposit. I’m going to start responding by asking if they’re saving for their nursing homes, or charging them a reparations fee if they voted for Brexit.

Like many of my peers, I once bought into the chimera of hard work and ambition reaping just rewards. I had a pretty huge headstart too, with a private education funded in part by the MOD education allowance, a scholarship, and parents who generously paid my rent at university rather than take holidays.

Three years after graduation and with over half my income going straight into my landlord’s pocket every month, property ownership is laughably out of reach. I could stay home eating dry toast in my garret room every night and still have nowhere near enough to put down a deposit on a derelict garage in zone 6. Those less lucky than I are even more hopelessly stuck.

It’s going to be an issue that divides our generation. I’ve already made enough drinks parties awkward by asking old school friends just why they think they deserve to inherit the fruits of their parents’ hard work.

Everyone feels they work hard, but hard work goes a lot further when a family member on the property ladder can send you down a lifeline to winch you up. For the record, I’d want to refuse if my own parents were self sacrificing enough to help me, but who knows what another few years of renting in London will do to my idealistic socialist values.

Under the current system hard work comes to nothing without access to property ownership. Soon we’ll be sinking back into a two tier system between the propertied classes and those desperate to join.

It will be Jane Austen’s regency marriage market 2.0, only with Tinder and contraception alongside feminine accomplishments.

I’ve always fancied writing a dating column, so if any eligible bachelors with a healthy property portfolio want to swipe right or write me, I have Grade 7 singing and am a dab hand at embroidery.


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