Ownership Will Remain Default Option
Date of Article
Jan 18 2009

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Stuart Harris, a Partner and Head of of Carter Jonas' Residential Team in Cambridge, asserts the enduring appeal of owning our own a little piece of England.

Rumours of the death of home ownership have been greatly exaggerated.

We make this assertion against predictions that the current housing market downturn will result, when we come out of it, in a shift against owner-occupancy as the tenure of choice for households.

While Carter Jonas in Cambridge has a buoyant residential lettings department in the current market and acknowledges that, presently, low purchase prices and higher rents mean good yields for professional property investors, people’s desire to own their own home will remain the default option when the housing market reaches its tipping point where greater activity returns.

Myself and other senior colleagues worked in estate agency during the last housing market downturn in the economic recession of the early 1990s.

Then, there was also much chatter about a new generation of young householders – ‘Generation X’ as they were coined, culturally – who would when the time came and they were established enough financially to consider buying property, consciously opt-out of home ownership.

Yet when the Gen X-ers got older and started having families in the late 1990s and early part of this decade, it manifested that they still aspired to owning their own homes. Either that or there was no Generation X or their numbers were not significant enough to be influential on most of the homebuying population.

What we have now, rather, is a new generation of cultural commentators who are predicting the death of owner-occupation.

The one thing that has endured since the last housing downturn which was characterised then by negative equity rather than the lack of mortgage finance which is the touchstone for the current slump in fulfilling demand, is the certainty that for most of this and the next generation and beyond, homeownership remains an aspiration and the desire for owner-occupation remains a default option.