Want a house? Give up the good life

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - 3 -

When it comes to houses, the usual story is that young peo­ple to­day are en­tirely to be pitied. Lenders are stingy, prices are strato­spheric and wages are low, goes the ar­gu­ment. The poor lit­tle urchins have to make sac­ri­fices their par­ents never did.

Kirstie All­sopp, the tele­vi­sion pre­sen­ter, dis­agrees. In a re­cent in­ter­view, she claimed that first-time buy­ers have al­ways had to give up some lux­u­ries.

“Young peo­ple are slightly los­ing the con­cept that you make sac­ri­fices to get on the lad­der,” she said. “They want to go to univer­sity, they want to travel, they want to eat out fre­quently and they want to buy their first flat.” All­sopp has pre­vi­ously said that when she ac­quired her first mort­gage she was earn­ing a wage of around £12,000, buy­ing pizza and lip­stick as treats just once a month.

“On my 21st birth­day, in­ter­est rates were at 15 per cent. It has never been, and never will be, easy.”

Is this right? We asked other broad­cast­ers and prop­erty ex­perts how they got that dif­fi­cult first foot on the lad­der, and how young peo­ple to­day can make it eas­ier for them­selves. I agree with Kirstie (Spencer’s co-pre­sen­ter on Chan­nel 4’s Lo­ca­tion, Lo­ca­tion, Lo­ca­tion). We’re not used to wait­ing for things any longer. My par­ents’ gen­er­a­tion stayed at home with their par­ents when they were mar­ried and then saved up for a house, but now we don’t even bother to queue for things. Peo­ple think that if they can’t have some­thing im­me­di­ately, they should move on. I won­der if life­style hasn’t be­come a greater pri­or­ity than prop­erty own­er­ship.

I took a big risk with my first pur­chase. I in­vested in a scheme where I had to find a way to live for a year while I con­verted a house into flats. As it turns out, I’ve never done a bet­ter deal; it was the equiv­a­lent of jumping two rungs up the prop­erty lad­der. My first house cost me £23,000 back in 1986, and I was de­lighted to se­cure a mort­gage fixed at 15 per cent for two years! So, it was cost­ing me about £290 a month, which with cur­rent low in­ter­est rates is the equiv­a­lent to pay­ments on a £140,000 house th­ese days (just be­low the national aver­age). But wages were

Own­er­ship has never been easy: Phil Spencer and Kirstie All­sopp

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