Comment: Ignore Kirstie. Life is short, don’t put it on hold to buy a house

It’s not surprising that only a third of 25-to 34-year-olds own their own home, despite the average home costing eight times as much as the average salary. The previous generations didn’t have access to gyms, third-wave coffee shops, or Ryanair. They smoked cheap cigarettes to stay slim, drank instant coffee and took one foreign holiday a year, if they were lucky.House prices were also three or four times wages, while rents averaged about a quarter of take-home pay.Kirstie Allsopp seems to have factored in the lifestyle factors without due consideration of the economic ones during the controversial interview in which she said she was “enraged” when people say they can’t afford to buy and went on to explain how she bought her first home aged 21 (walking to work and taking a packed lunch, in case you haven’t read the interview, plus some unspecified but presumably crucial “help”).Even if her words were truncated, twisted or taken out of context, pointing the finger of blame at a generation facing annual house-price rises higher than their average salary is oblivious at best.Criticising individuals rather than systems just makes it easier to ignore the serious structural issues with housing in the UK, from insecure private rentals and spiralling costs to ineffective taxation and NIMBYism.Homeownership is a massive achievement for younger people and it also offers a far better chance of a secure home and healthy finances than private renting. Let’s not pretend that it’s easy for everyone, even the most wealthy.
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Our first-time buyer interviews reveal the determination and focus that many people have to buy in the capital. We also highlight the importance of government schemes like Help to Buy or shared ownership. It is possible. But there are still thousands of people who make the right choices but see house prices rise beyond their reach. There must be a limit on the sacrifices that people are willing to make if they truly believe home ownership is the ultimate goal of their lives. It’s too short to put off buying a house.