I am inclined to think that this recession could have far-reaching consequences in terms of housing. It is a comparatively recently that the ownership of one’s home has become the overwhelming orthodoxy. It does in theory have advantages over other forms of access to housing. But it has been carefully orchestrated for the advantage of the financial and building industries; why should people want to join a housing ladder as opposed to having a home of their own. The word ladder implies movement and aspiration, reaching ever higher. It makes it somehow shameful to be content with your existing home. It leads in many cases to people spending all their energies climbing it, buying a house, upgrading it in some way, selling it and moving upward. Would it not be better for the soul to have a nice Sunday afternoon walk with friends and family than to spend it re-papering the lounge for the umpteenth time.
However, if lending and therefore borrowing persists in being difficult for several years to come as banks encouraged by government attempt to return to the previous status quo, even the theoretical advantage of house owning may become less attractive. We have had an extended period of time when repaying a mortgage on a rising value has been beneficial but a mortgage on a static value may not be so good.
It is claimed that there is a chronic housing shortage. If the government were to genuinely support a low-cost housing initiative and instead of providing the banks with the wherewithal to rebuild their funds, which they so foolishly squandered, left them to sink or swim on their own and instead poured the money directly into house building that shortage could be reduced and house values could be stabilised. This would allow a variety of tenancy and part or joint ownership schemes to be created which would perhaps suit a higher proportion of the population than the present one size fits all mortgage system. It would also remove the, as it has turned out, false projections of ever increasing GDP and wealth not based on goods produced but on goods consumed. It is obvious that no politician with an eye to short-term popularity would suggest consumer led increases in GDP was a work of the devil but we have heard about consumer this and consumer that for several years without anybody, politician, journalist or other public figure, campaigning against it. We the people have been badly let down.