1. Shelter, the housing charity, has claimed that more than 80% of homes in the UK are out of the price range of the average family.
In London, it says say, there are only 43 properties that are affordable for a typical young family buying their first home. Forty-three!
2. Over the past 18 years, the cost of a house compared with the average income has more than doubled.
In 1997, the average house cost about £96,000 in today's money. Now it's more than £190,000.
3. It's even worse in London. The difference between how much the average Londoner earns and the price of the average house has nearly trebled.
The typical London house price in 1997 was the equivalent of £137,203 today. Now it's £382,650. Meanwhile, the average salary in inner London stands at £34,473, meaning you'd have to save every penny for a decade to afford the average property.
4. Nothing else in your life has got that expensive that quickly.
5. Political parties seem to have noticed this, and want to make it easier to buy. George Osborne made changes to stamp duty in his last Autumn Statement, and has channelled billions through the Help to Buy scheme.
In Labour's manifesto, the party promised to reduce stamp duty on cheaper homes for first-time buyers.
6. But the problem isn't taxes. It's that there aren't enough houses. The house price rise has coincided with a collapse in the number of new houses being built.
Shelter's chart (which you can see a larger version of here) shows that as the number of houses being built has declined since the Second World War, the average house price (adjusted for inflation) has gone up. The contrast has been particularly dramatic in the last few years.
"Each year, we build at least 100,000 fewer homes than we need and the extent of the housing shortage only increases," says the charity.
7. And the population is rising. So the demand for housing is rising, while the supply isn't.
This has a simple and obvious outcome:
8. As the price rises, it's harder for young people to buy a home, and that puts pressure on the rest of the housing market.
The proportion of those aged between 25 and 34 who own their own home has dropped to barely a third of the level in 2003–4. That means the percentage who have to rent has skyrocketed – hence all the talk about "Generation Rent".
9. That has knock-on problems of its own, because private rental (from landlords) is much more expensive than social (from housing associations or local government).
According to the English Housing Survey, private rental is increasing each year, while the proportion of people in social rented accommodation has remained steady for over a decade at roughly 17% of the population.
10. This means people are having to rent smaller and smaller places – especially in London.
For those lucky enough to be able to buy in London, the amount of space per person is actually going up. But for those renting, it's going down – because there's too much competition for decent-sized properties.
11. This ridiculous pressure on housing has led to situations like this.
Yes, that's a houseboat on sale for nearly five times what the average Londoner earns in a year.
12. The only thing that can fix this? Building more houses.
Tom Chivers is a science writer for BuzzFeed and is based in London.
Contact Tom Chivers at email@example.com.
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