As a nation, we generally take great pride in our homes. And over recent years there has been much speculation on the housing market and property prices. During the early years of the new millennium, house prices in the UK rose dramatically, creating a housing boom. House prices continued to rise rapidly until they reached a peak in 2007.
Different parts of the UK will have experienced different growth spurts at varying times during the property boom. Up until 2008, you will also have seen different levels of house price rises depending on where you live within the UK. In 2008, and coinciding with the recent recession, house prices started to fall until they stabilised during mid 2009. Since then, the housing market has fluctuated but generally has remained stable.
In the midst of the property boom and the UK recession, house prices rose faster than earnings meaning that the affordability of owning a home for the majority of people has deteriorated. It has also been found that the average age of first-time house buyers has increased indicating that for many would-be homeowners getting a foothold in the housing market remains a far off distant dream.
There have been different incentive schemes introduced over the years to help ease the housing market purchasing issues. These schemes, aimed mainly at first-time buyers and key workers, have helped house buyers move into affordable housing and start climbing the housing ladder. Schemes that have previously been introduced include shared equity (also known as equity loans) and shared ownership. Shared equity generally means that the house buyer purchases all of the property whilst shared ownership usually involves the house buyer partly paying mortgage and partly paying rent on the property.
To try and combat the more recent housing market issues, during the Budget in March 2013, the UK Government announced a government-backed Help to Buy Scheme that would be introduced in 2013 / 2014. The initial part of the Help to Buy Scheme was launched in April in England and the second stage was introduced earlier this month (October). The Help to Buy Scheme is being introduced throughout the UK but Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will run their own versions of the scheme.