It seems we can’t go a month without a new revelation about millennials and our shocking prospects for home ownership hitting the headlines.
Last year Australian millionaire Tim Gurner advised us young’uns to stop splashing out on smashed avocado on toast if we ever want to save enough for a deposit. Recently, in a more nuanced look at Generation Y’s abysmal financial situation, a report by the Resolution Foundation found that up to a third of young people face living in rented accommodation all their lives, while 40 per cent of those born between 1980 and 1996 will still be renting at the age of 30.
As a so-called millennial currently going through the process of buying my first home, I regret to report that saving the deposit is only half the battle for most of us. After almost nine years of renting in Manchester, I started looking for my first home in January. Since then I’ve viewed around 40 properties, put in four offers, and I am still nowhere near moving.
The process usually goes like this: you see a property for sale and call the estate agent to book a viewing. The estate agent informs you that they are doing a group viewing on such a day, usually the following Saturday. If you can make it, great; if you can’t, you’ll just have to hope it doesn’t sell and call back next week.
Assuming you can make the group viewing, it goes like this: you arrive at the property along with between eight and 20 other people, mostly first time buyers. If you like it, you put in an offer. The estate agent then calls you the following day to say there have been multiple offers on the property, therefore you are asked to submit your best and final offer by a given deadline. You then go through the painstaking process of discussing just how much over your initial budget you are willing to stretch for this particular house. And then you find out someone else has beaten you to it.
Since January I have seen houses with the ceilings falling in, houses with rat bait boxes in every corner, houses with wires hanging out of the walls and bathrooms that you wouldn’t wash your dog in. Like most first time buyers I am not looking for a palace and am open to buying a house that needs a bit of work, but after putting down a 10 per cent deposit most of us don’t have a spare £20,000 knocking around to start rebuilding ceilings and ripping bathrooms out.
The simple fact is that there aren’t enough affordable houses to go around. Buyers are at the mercy of sellers, many of whom are developers who have bought properties for half the price less than a year ago and are making hefty returns.
Most depressing is scrolling through Rightmove and seeing a house that looks half decent, and then you realise it’s being sold to cash buyers only. Equally soul destroying is turning on the TV and catching a glimpse of programmes such as Benefits Street, where tenants are living in squalor thanks to slum landlords, many of whom own upwards of 60 properties. It makes you wonder what kind of society we are living in, where one person’s wealth is prioritised over the right of hundreds of people to live in a comfortable home – regardless of whether it is owned or rented.