The UK's residential housing stock is now worth an estimated £4 trillion. But this valuation is powered by £1.2 trillion in mortgages, an average first time buyer loan of £140,000, a loan/income multiple of 3.61 and the base interest rate at 5.5%.
In 1987, the average first-time buyer borrowed £25,000, with a loan/income multiple of 2.1 and the base interest rate at 10.5%.
So the modern housebuyer now takes on 72% more debt in relation to income. Interest rates (and house values) may go up and down, but the amount borrowed is a hard - and now heavy - number. All this for the same thing we had 20 years ago - a safe place to sleep.
One might think that the true value of our housing is the gross less debt, i.e. (4 - 1.2 =) £2.8 trillion. That approach would work, if each house had the same proportion of debt. But it must be far less than that, since most of the debt is on the shoulders of the young(ish) - if they halved their initial borrowing, there would have to be a severe impact on house prices generally.
What would houses be worth if no-one could borrow more than 2 years' income against them? What if there were no mortgages at all? What will happen - what will the multiplying effect be - when the housebuying generation finds itself so burdened with taxes and high food and energy costs, that it cannot afford to take on such large home loans?
In whose interest has all this money-lending operated?
In cartoon-caveman times, chasing the bear or sabre-toothed tiger out and seizing the cave would be a day's work. Now it takes 20-25 years (sometimes far more) to chase out the bank. Have we progressed?