While the rich can take advantage, housing inequalities get nowhere | Letters
I was surprised that when answering Coco Khan’s questions about the housing market (Will UK house prices ever collapse? We ask expert, October 22), Danny Dorling left an important part of the whole picture until the last sentence: “We are one of the most unequal countries in Europe.
One of the major reasons for the sharp rise in house prices is certainly that the rich can make a handsome profit by renting a house when many other investments are uncertain. Where we were once a land of landlords, we are increasingly becoming a land of tenants. Buy-sell is commonly seen among real estate agents.
Many homes are bought by the wealthy as second homes, and foreign buyers looking for a lucrative return make it even more difficult for first-time buyers. A house is a house and that is a basic requirement for all of us. We can choose to buy the latest in fashion or replace our kitchen, but when times get tough we’ll always need a home. This is why the rich are assured of a good return when they invest in real estate.
I suspect that as the rich continue to look for a good return on their investment and people continue to need a place to live, house prices are unlikely to come down. Unless the plight of ordinary workers becomes so desperate that they are no longer able to pay their rent.
I was saddened to see the Guardian normalize the practice of buying a home to perpetuate the selection of schools by wealth (Fantasy house hunt: Homes for sale in easy reach of schools – in pictures, October 22). The 1988 Education Reform Act introduced the principle that parents can choose a (state-funded) school for their children. I and other teachers at the time could see where this would lead.
Schools, often founded on spurious and ill-informed motives, have become either “wanted” or rejected. Very quickly, the municipal schools were classified as parents with the means chose certain schools, whose notoriety would then strengthen over the years. This, of course, resulted in a group of schools at the bottom of this league, which had to deal with the manifestation of more than average local social deprivation.
It is selection by privilege. Previously, local authorities designated catchment areas that would include a representative sample of the borough’s communities. Isn’t this where social cohesion can begin?
The properties of your “fantastic house hunt” illustrate more than the benefits that the better-off have when playing the education system. While one property (two bedroom, Hay-on-Wye) was affordably priced at £ 275,000, the rest ranged from £ 400,000 to almost £ 900,000. Getting around these “good schools”, all in well-off places, requires substantial income and is beyond the means of most parents. There are undoubtedly cheaper houses in these school basins and it is certain that there are many “good schools” where the middle classes have not yet raised the prices. Perhaps the Guardian could look at the options available to those with more modest means for whom “fantasy” might simply mean a decent house with secure tenancy at affordable rent.
Huddersfield, West Yorkshire