Monday, August 21, 2006

uk bubble / käufer für ne wg gesucht

die überschrift spricht für sich. dank an mish

U.K. First-Time House Buyers Dwindle, Threatening Blair's Boom

By Laura Humble
Aug. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Lorraine Highton is searching online for someone to live with. She isn't looking for love; she's seeking a stranger to help buy her first apartment in London. (wow! ne art käuferwg. so muß verzweiflung aussehen)

Highton, 32, has signed up with a Web site that matches first-time homebuyers with potential partners. After the average price of entry-level properties tripled to a record 222,005 pounds ($421,000) over the past 10 years, many young adults are struggling to raise the money for a down payment.

``I know a lot of over-30-year-olds in London who can't get on the property ladder,'' Highton says. ``You need to be earning at least 55,000 pounds to buy on your own in London and going into it alone is nerve-wracking.''

The number of first-time homebuyers dropped to a 25-year low of 320,000 last year, according to estimates by Edinburgh-based HBOS Plc, Britain's biggest lender. As new purchasers get older and rarer, the U.K.'s economic growth may slow, says Tom Vosa, a former Bank of England economist who is now head of market economics at National Australia Bank in London.

The British appetite for home ownership has helped fuel 36 straight quarters of economic expansion under Prime Minister Tony Blair, who came to office in May 1997 as soaring property values spurred consumers to borrow and spend. Seventy percent of U.K. homes are owner-occupied compared with 56 percent in France and 41 percent in Germany, according to the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, based in London.

``Rising house prices aren't necessarily a good thing,'' Vosa says. ``The risk is at some stage, the value of the housing stock falls precipitously because there are simply no buyers left.''

Rate Rise

The U.K. central bank's Aug. 3 decision to raise interest rates by a quarter-point to 4.75 percent made British mortgages more expensive. Investors are betting on another rate increase by the end of the year, with the yield on the interest-rate futures contract maturing in December at 5.17 percent late yesterday.

Many homeowners are already stretching themselves, with the average loan for a first property at 110,000 pounds in June, a record 3.21 times the borrower's average earnings, according to the London-based Council of Mortgage Lenders.

Last year economic growth slowed to a 13-year low of 1.9 percent. Bank of England governor Mervyn King says the dearth of first-time buyers may crimp the $6.8 trillion housing market.
``Clearly, in the long run, the market requires first time buyers to come in and provide base demand,'' King said at an Aug. 9 press conference in London. ``There is a great deal of uncertainty about the sustainability of the present level of house prices relative to earnings or incomes.''

More than 60,000 aspiring owners under the age of 40 were unable to buy homes last year, according to calculations by Steve Wilcox of the Center for Housing Policy at York University in northern England.

Housing Help

The slowing of the first-time market led Blair's government in April to introduce a shared-ownership program that will provide 970 million pounds in loans and grants to help ``key workers'' such as nurses become homeowners by 2010.

The difficulty Richard Cohn had buying his first home in Finchley, north London, five years ago inspired him to start, the site Highton is using to find a partner to share the cost of purchasing a home.

``I got a modern shoebox for 140,000 pounds and if I was going out there looking now, I wouldn't be able to afford my original place,'' says Cohn, 36, adding that his experience as a computer consultant and real estate agent helped him start the business. His ``co-buyer network'' has registered more than 2,500 members since going online in February.

Debt Drag

The growing burden of student debt is also making it harder for university graduates to get onto the property ladder, says Bob Pannell, research director at the CML.

``While home-ownership remains a long-term aspiration for the majority, the reality is that for many young people the combination of house prices and student debt is reinforcing a lifestyle choice in favor of renting,'' Pannell says.

The average student expects to graduate with a record 11,900 pounds of debt this year, according to research by London-based polling company GfK NOP for Barclays Bank and the National Council for Graduate Entrepreneurship.

The average first-time buyer put down a deposit of 23,967 pounds last year, HBOS estimates. The average university graduate earned 21,415 pounds, according to Incomes Data Services in London. (im vergleich zu den usa ne ganze menge)

Demand for rented accommodation from young people unable to afford homes has created a growing market for those with the money to invest in rental property. Lenders issued 701,900 ``buy- to-let'' mortgages in 2005, compared with 417,500 two years earlier, according to the CML.

That means Highton faces even more competition in the hunt for her perfect home.
``I just feel like I am burning my money on rent,'' she says. ``I really hope I find someone on the Web site to buy with.''



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