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66% wish for stable house prices

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Most people would like property prices to stay the same or even fall over the next few years.

According to a poll of 4,500 respondents conducted by YouGov for homeless charity Shelter this month, the figure of 66% who would prefer price stability is a rise on the 58% of respondents who expressed the same sentiment in June this year.

Shelter points to the fact that attitudes to property prices have changed during a period when the government’s Help to Buy has featured prominently in the news.

Asking about people’s attitude to housing in the UK, the poll found that, of those (usually older) homeowners who had paid off their mortgages, more people want prices to stay the same or fall than want them to rise (67% vs 28%), with the over 60s most in favour of stable or decreasing prices.

The charity pointed out that this could be due to their concern for their children or grandchildren’s ability to get onto the housing ladder, ‘and fear of the consequences of boom and bust based on their own experiences’.

The poll also revealed that support for stable house prices is almost universal across the respondents regardless of their location, politics or age.

Those more likely to want prices to rise tended to be in their forties, earning over £40,000 a year, and owned their homes with a mortgage.

It found that the majority of Daily Express (65%) and Daily Mail (66%) readers would prefer house prices to either go down or stay at their current level. The trend holds regardless of voting intention – around two thirds of both Conservative voters (65%) and Labour voters (66%), and almost three quarters of Lib Dem voters (73%), would prefer lower or stable house prices.

Steve Akehurst, public affairs officer at Shelter, said:

“We have long warned that high house prices threaten to push the dream of homeownership further out of reach for low-and-middle income families – and it seems the public agree. This all speaks to a wider anxiety that parents have that their children are set to do worse than they did – something the Government’s Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission look set to confirm this week.

“Indeed voters seem to agree with the former housing minister, Grant Shapps when he said in 2011 that Government should aim to “usher in a new age of ‘house price stability’.

“Taxpayer-backed mortgages like Help to Buy, therefore, represent not only bad economics but bad politics for the Government too.

“The only way to meet the public’s housing needs and aspirations in the long term is to achieve house price stability by ensuring responsible lending and addressing the huge shortage of affordable homes.

“In an age of stagnant wages and anxiety over the future, the old political certainties may no longer hold true.”

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